Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Australian Open sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas will be a top attraction and is certain to pose a threat to every opponent he faces at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships later this month.
Anyone who thinks that his stunning victory over Roger Federer made him merely a one-win wonder would be making a huge mistake. He had already made history last season when he became the youngest player to beat four top 10 opponents at an event since the ATP World Tour began in 1990. His victims there in Toronto were Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Kevin Anderson, and it took Rafael Nadal to end his run in the final on Tsitsipas’s 20th birthday.
He ended his season as the top seed at the Next Gen ATP Finals where he defeated Alex de Minaur for the title. No wonder he was voted by his fellow players as the 2018 ATP Most Improved Player of the Year.
And, as he had shown in Toronto, instead of suffering a mental letdown after a big win, he followed his victory over Federer in Melbourne with another excellent performance in the quarter-finals where he overcame an in-form Roberto Bautista Agut, who was fresh off a victory of his own over Djokovic on his way to the Doha title.
“I have been idolising Roger since the age of six. It was a dream just being on Rod Laver and facing him, and winning at the end, it’s indescribable,” Tsitsipas said. “It was actually very mental, I would say. I could have cracked at any moment, but I didn’t because I really wanted it bad. Obviously and for sure that mental toughness helped a lot. It could have been a different match if I wouldn’t stand that pressure.
“It’s not easy to play these kind of players that you’ve been watching for so long and you finally get to play them,” Tsitsipas said. “Mentally you have to be much stronger than any other match that you have faced that week. Having such a name like Federer on the other side, it’s an extra advantage for him because he’s done what he’s done. But mentally, for players to beat him they have to be ready and believe in themselves that they are, their game is great enough to beat such a player.”
“It is always a great pleasure to welcome exciting new stars to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and we are delighted to see Stefanos Tsitsipas back with us again,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “He has proved that he is capable of beating the very best, and he returns to us this year with every chance of leaving as the champion.”
While he is in Dubai Tsitsipas will no doubt hope for an opportunity between matches to indulge in his favourite hobby of compiling video blogs of the places he visits, recording some of the many iconic buildings and vistas that the city has to offer.
“Stefanos Tsitsipas has made enormous strides since he lost here in the quarter-finals a year ago,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “Now he returns as a very real title contender and it will be very interesting to see how well he does against such a challenging field.”
Tsitsipas will begin as one of the favourites for the coveted title, but he faces a daunting challenge with seven-time champion Federer, former US Open champion Marin Cilic, defending Dubai champion Bautista Agut, former Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic and Dubai two-time finalist Tomas Berdych among others also vying for the prestigious crown.
Before the men’s event gets underway, tennis fans can enjoy a sumptuous week of women’s tennis featuring an incredible nine of the world’s top 10 in a field that includes newly crowned Australian Open champion and world No. 1 Naomi Osaka, two-time Wimbledon champion and 2019 Australian Open runner-up Petra Kvitova, Dubai defending champion Elina Svitolina, reigning French Open champion Simona Halep, three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber, 2018 Australian Open winner Caroline Wozniacki, 2019 Brisbane champion and Australian Open semi-finalist Karolina Pliskova and former French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, begins with the WTA event which takes place between 17th and 23rd February, and is followed by the ATP event between 25th February and 2nd March.