x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dubai: be warned of last-minute withdrawals

Dubai Tennis Championships organisers must fear cancellations. A case in point: Novak Djokovic. Eight days removed from being well enough to win the Australian Open, the world No 3 told officials of the Rotterdam Open he would not be able to play in their tournament.

Dubai be warned of last-minute withdrawals

Tournament organisers must keep a large supply of cheery "Get well soon!" cards at their disposal. The thought of one or two of their top seeds citing injury or illness and dropping out of a tournament just before it begins must make their blood run cold.

A case in point: Novak Djokovic.

Eight days removed from being well enough to win the Australian Open, the world No 3 told officials of the Rotterdam Open yesterday that he would not be able to play in their tournament this week, mentioning "a sore shoulder".

And there went Rotterdam's top seed. Good luck with those last-minute ticket sales.

In the days just before an event, organisers must be tempted to encourage players not to catch a chill, stay out late or eat out-of-season shellfish. Not even a player's own mother is as interested in their physical welfare.

Organisers of the Dubai Tennis Championships presumably feel as if they have entered the danger zone: their women's event begins at the Aviation Club next Monday and the men's tournament the Monday after that.

Nothing good can come now from any injury or illness to those who have committed to their events.

Dubai has a strong men's field (including Djokovic) and a stronger women's field. But a turned ankle or a virus this week or next could change the dynamic overnight. Or "a sore shoulder".

Perhaps a bunch of helium balloons or a box of chocolates with a nice greeting card could speed Djokovic's recovery.