x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships do not need any help attracting tennis' big names

It is not necessarily a bad thing that the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is not going to be growing in size.

Bigger and better often are paired as inextricably linked concepts, on precious little evidence. Organisers of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships seem to understand this.

Asked about expanding their men's event from a 500 series event to Masters 1000 status, they politely demurred.

To get to the next level, one just below standards set for the grand slam events, they would have to blow up the Aviation Club and start over or move to a facility which does not yet exist.

For a Masters 1000 event, the ATP calls for a stadium court and two other show courts, all of which must have floodlights. The Aviation Club currently has one show court.

Organisers also would need to "buy" a week on the schedule at a cost of at least Dh36.7 million.

And for what? To coax a few more top-10 players into the draw? Just because "Masters 1000" sounds better than "500 series"?

Just before Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic met for the Dubai championship on Saturday, the tournament's managing director, Colm McLoughlin, noted that "we had the world No 2 and the world No 3" in the final without being a Masters 1000 event.

Dubai already has much going for it: a reputation as a prime tourist destination, warm winter weather and a slot on the calendar when most of the world's elite players are playing in Europe.

So McLoughlin had it exactly right when he said: "For the moment, we are OK."