Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

February 18- March 2, 2024
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 18- March 2, 2024
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
March 2, 2024

From court to cockpit: Andrey Rublev takes flight in Dubai

The 2022 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships winner tackled Emirates’ virtual flight simulator before following it up with victory over Zhang Zhizhen

Dubai, UAE—February 27, 2024: As Andrey Rublev geared up for the 32nd edition of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, his training regime veered into uncharted territory.

Rather than spending the afternoon perfecting his serve and volley, the world No. 5 took his preparation to new heights and headed to Emirates Aviation Training College to immerse himself in an experience like no other.

Rublev, the No. 2 seed for this year’s ATP 500 tournament, seamlessly transitioned from the court to the cockpit, where he put his concentration to the ultimate test as he navigated the virtual skies in a flight simulator ahead of his sixth appearance at the Championships.

Flashback: Malek Jaziri, Marcos Baghdatis pilot A380 at the Emirates Aviation College

And it certainly gave the Russian the lift-off he needed for the tournament as the 26-year-old edged out Zhang Zhizhen, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4, in a three-set thriller on Centre Court to line up a second-round meeting against either Italian Lorenzo Musetti or qualifier Arthur Cazaux.

Reflecting on the experience, Rublev said: “It was unreal; I enjoyed it a lot. It will be in my memory forever, so thank you so much for the opportunity. I’ve always been super afraid to fly, but the experience was really nice and it wasn’t too difficult.”

Rublev already has 15 ATP singles titles to his name, one of which came at the beginning of the year at the Hong Kong Open. Since then, however, the Russian has fallen at the quarterfinal hurdle at three successive tournaments, including a straight-sets defeat to eventual Australian Open winner Jannik Sinner in Melbourne.

The 10-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist is among a formidable lineup ready to do battle this week, which includes close friend and reigning champion Daniil Medvedev, World No8 Hubert Hurkacz, and three-time Grand slam winner Andy Murray.

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Tickets for this week’s ATP event are available to purchase at www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.

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