Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Dubai, UAE – February 26, 2023: World No.1 Novak Djokovic insists that while he may have only been given the medical all-clear to compete at this week’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships as recently as five days ago, he has no intention of using this week’s ATP 500 tournament as competitive training, revealing that he values every trophy he wins now “three or four times more than he did 10 years ago”.
Djokovic, 35, battled with a hamstring tear last month on route to winning a 10th Australian Open and returns on Tuesday for the first time since lifting the trophy, his record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title. The big-hitting Serb will start his campaign at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium against Tomas Machac searching for a sixth win in the emirate’s famous tournament, which runs this year from February 27 to March 4.
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“It was always in my plan to be here and participate in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” said Djokovic. “I didn’t know whether I was going to be here or not. Probably only five or six days ago, we knew that it is going to be possible. I had almost three weeks with no tennis, so these last few days, it’s really been about getting as much tennis practice as possible. I’m getting closer to 100 per cent—still not there, but the important thing is there is no pain. I don’t have a hindrance to the way I move on the court.”
Djokovic will start a record 387th week atop the world rankings on Monday, yet his desire to win has not dwindled: “Everywhere I go, I want to win. Every trophy I get to win now maybe values three or four times as much as some trophies I won 10 years ago, because I know that it’s different. I don’t know how much time I have left; how many more years I’m going to play. I try to really get the most out of the present moment in every tournament that I play.”
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The first player looking to stand in his way of further success is Machac, a 22-year-old Czech ranked 119 places below him in the world rankings and with just nine match wins so far on the ATP Tour. Developing a quiet reputation for his speed, agility, and power from the baseline, he qualified for this week’s main draw with wins over Marton Fucsovics and Matteo Arnaldi.
The confirmed main draw includes eight of the world’s top 20 players, including reigning champion Andrey Rublev who will face Djokovic’s compatriot Filip Krajinovic, Olympic gold medallist Alexander Zverev who will meet Jiri Lehecka, and Canadian prospect Felix Auger-Aliassime who will need to overcome American Maxime Cressy.
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Both Daniil Medvedev, the world No.8 who was victorious in Doha yesterday, and his opponent in the Qatar final, a rejuvenated Andy Murray, are also both confirmed. Medvedev will meet lucky loser Arnaldi, while Murray faces fifth-seed Hubert Hurkacz. Meanwhile, Machac is joined by fellow qualifiers Pavel Kotov, Alexandar Lazarov, and Christopher O’Connell, while wildcards have been given to Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri, and Australian duo Thanasi Kokkinakis and Alexei Popyrin.
Grab Your Seats
Tickets for the 31st Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships are on sale at dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com, starting from Dh55. Tickets are also available at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium Box Office between 9am and 9pm daily. The ATP Tour 500 tournament runs from February 27 to March 4.
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.