Djokovic and Federer are through on Centre Court while, on the sidelines, the players have voted the Dubai Open as the best for the seventh time in eight years.
Updates from day two of men's Dubai Duty Free Championships
Federer and Djokovic have it easy
9.10 pm: Roger Federer, the top seed, is through to the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championship with a straight sets win over Somdev Devvarman.
Returning to an arena where has won four titles, the Swiss faced some spirited resistance from the Indian, but eventually prevailed 6-3, 6-3. He meets Marcel Granollers next.
5.20 pm: Novak Djokovic, the second seed, cruised into the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championship with a straight sets win over Michael Llodra.
Djokovic, winner of the year here for the last two years, needed just 63 minutes to dispatch the Frenchman 6-3, 6-3.
Meanwhile, in his post-match press conference Djokovic has told reporters said the Serbian has made Monaco his home now. Read here why.
Baghdatis opts out after failing to recover from the flu
5.00 pm: The Cypriots fans were left disappointed after an ailing Marcos Baghdatis retired from his first-round match against Andrey Golubev after 23 minutes on the court.
Baghdatis was down with flu in the days leading up to the tournament and made a brave attempt to play his match, but decided to retire after struggling on the court. He was down 0-4 when he made the call.
“The problem is that it’s been five, six days that I’m in bed with high temperature,” said Baghdatis, who was seeded seventh here.
“Yeah, I flew in a bit late coming here [arrived on Sunday night]. I couldn’t fly because of the high temperature.
“I’ve been only ten minutes on the practice court the last seven days. Today I felt a little bit better, but I couldn’t… on court, I just could not give my best. I think it’s not good to stay out there.
“I came here to give it a try. That’s what I tried to do. Why not come here and try, you know? [But] I just couldn’t. I felt no energy, no power.
“The next tournament is in three weeks, Indian Wells, so, yeah, I’ll get some time. And, you know, definitely I’ll play in Davis Cup. So I’m going to go home and try to see my doctor and try to feel better and start practising as soon as possible."
Seven out of eight record for Dubai as world's best
3.40pm: The Dubai Tennis Championship has been voted as the best tournament on the ATP World Tour 500, winning the award for the seventh time in eight years.
The winners of the award, voted for by the players, were announced yesterday, with the Shanghai Masters taking the honours on the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and the Swedish Open being voted the best on the Tour 250.
“We are absolutely delighted that the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has been voted by the players as being ATP World Tour 500 Tournament of the Year,” said Colm McLoughlin, the managing director of Dubai Duty Free.
“The award is extra special as it comes from the players themselves and reflects all of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that the players, officials and spectators have a fantastic experience during our event. Congratulations to all involved.”
Young Tennis Emirates players get to learn from the best
2.50pm: Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi put some of the UAE’s budding talents to the test yesterday, offering them tips on different aspects of the game before the India-Pakistan doubles pair opened their Dubai Tennis Championship campaign against Jarkko Nieminen and Viktor Troicki.
More than 30 young Tennis Emirates players, from different age categories, were at the clinic to learn from the pros. To their delight, the youngsters also received tickets to watch Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on centre court.
“It’s great fun being able to interact with some of the future champions and fantastic to be able to give something back to the game,” Bopanna said.
“There is some real talent here and the youngsters gave us a run for our money,” added Qureshi.
Djokovic receives a loud Dubai welcome on centre court
2.10 pm: Champion on his last two visits to Dubai, Novak Djokovic has just arrived on centre court to a loud welcome.
It is far from a packed house, but the fans are trickling in gradually, many wearing the red Serbian t-shirt and carrying their country’s flag. Of course, all of them have brought their sunscreen
lotions as well as this is a warm, sunny day.
Djokovic is playing Frenchman Michael Llodra, who beat him in their last match at the Paris Masters in 2010. Overall, they are tied 1-1 with Djokovic winning their earlier duel Miami Masters in 2007.
Given that record, the fans should expect an exciting match between the world No 3 and Llodra, the 30-year-old world No 27, who has five ATP titles.
The bar is set high for Bubka Jr
Ahmed Rizvi reports:
13.30pm: Being the son of a famous sport personality can often be a curse. It could mean constant comparisons and reminders of his achievements, an entire life in the shadows of your father.
Sergei Bubka is facing a similar trial. He is the son of one of the greatest legends of modern sport, the pole-vaulter Sergey Bubka, he admits the bar has been set really high, but hopes he can eventually make a name for himself.
“It’s very difficult for it to happen, because he set bar really, really high, 6.15,” said Bubka, who is through to the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championship after his first-round opponent Ivan Ljubicic retired on Monday night with a foot injury, trailing 1-6, 1-0 at the time.
“Yeah, but I definitely want to make a name for myself and be recognised for any achievements.”
Bubka senior won six consecutive world championships, an Olympic gold medal at the Seoul Olympics and broke the men’s record 35 times in a career spanning almost two decades. He still holds the world record for both the indoors (6.15m) and the outdoors (6.14m).
Progress for Bubka junior on the ATP circuit has been a bit slow. Ranked 342 in the world, the 24-year-old had to come through the qualifiers in Dubai.
Sergei, however, was never tempted to follow in his father’s footsteps and take to pole vaulting.
“Now I start to think I would probably have good genetics for it,” said the Ukrainian. “But, no, I really never wanted to be a pole vaulter. I always had a dream to be a tennis player since I tried it for the first time.”
Sergei was introduced to tennis by his mother and Bubka senior, who used to play tennis occasionally, put his support behind the children.
“It was my mum,” he said. “She knew a tennis coach back in Donestk, Ukraine, where we were born. She took me and my brother to try it, and that’s how we started. It wasn’t really my dad’s idea.
“But when he saw that we like it, he supported us and gave us the opportunity to pursue tennis. He believes in me and really encourages me and is a great support.
“All sports are quite common in some ways. So in terms of the professionalism, the preparation the fitness, he tries to give me advice. I try to listen.”
Ahmed Rizvi reports:
12.30 pm: With Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic starting the day and Roger Federer featuring later in the evening, the centre court at the Dubai Tennis Stadium should be buzzing with excitement.
Djokovic, the world No 3, will take on Michael Llodra in the opening match of the day on centre court, scheduled for 2pm, while Federer meets wild card Somdev Devvarman of India at 7pm.
The “Indian Express”, doubles duo Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, will also be in action on centre court, playing Djokovic brothers, Novak and Marko.
That doubles match should be hugely entertaining given Djokovic’s penchant for entertaining fans, but the Serb will definitely not be trying any of impersonations of fellow tennis players through this week.
“Impersonations, I have done a lot of them and I have no more up my sleeves,” said Djokovic, who has done impressions of Nadal, Maria Sharapova and John McEnroe on the court. “So I have to work on that; looking for some new faces. If it comes, it comes spontaneous.
“I do have fun in many other things, but the impersonations have left the best and biggest impact in the world of tennis. I was happy to see the comments, which were positive. Of course, there were negative also.
“My priority there was to have some fun and make people laugh, bring some joy and smiles.”
DUBAI // Good afternoon and welcome to the second day of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships from the Aviation Club.
After a showery day in Dubai yesterday, it is the turn of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, the No 1 and No 2 seeds, with a lot more tennis sandwiched in between.
While Ahmed Rizvi, our key-man courtside today, gets ready, take in the big tennis stories appearing in The National today: