Dubai tennis fans are in for a real treat with Australian Open champions and world number ones Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka heading the fantastic field of champions who will compete at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next month.
Djokovic, who will bid to become the first player to win four consecutive Dubai titles, produced two stunning performances in Melbourne, first fighting his way past Andy Murray in a draining five-set marathon semi-final before digging deep to outlast Rafael Nadal in the longest Grand Slam final ever played, hitting the winning ball after five hours 53 minutes.
"We live for these matches,” said the delighted Serbian after his sensational victory. “That we played almost six hours is incredible. I'm very proud just to be part of this history, part of the elite players that have won this tournament several times. I was very flattered to be playing in front of Rod Laver, in front of the all-time greats, and in front of 15,000 people that stayed until 1:30am.”
A day before his triumph, Victoria Azarenka not only claimed the Australian Open title with a devastating win over former champion Maria Sharapova, but she took over as world number one. Ranked three going into the Australian Open, she is the first player in WTA history to skip over number two to get to number one for the first time.
“Well, it's a dream come true, you know. I have been dreaming and working so hard to win the Grand Slam, and being number one is a pretty good bonus,” said the 22-year old. "I have no idea what happened out there. It was amazing and pure joy when I won. I couldn't believe the match was over.”
“We are thrilled that the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships will feature all four reigning women’s Grand Slam champions, and a player who is only the fifth in the Open era of tennis to win three consecutive Grand Slam titles,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Tournament Owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free.
“The performances in Melbourne of both Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka were fantastic, and we look forward to seeing the two best players in the world competing here in Dubai, along with so many other great champions.”
Djokovic and Azarenka were not the only Dubai-bound winners at the Australian Open, as Russian pair Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva teamed up to claim the women’s doubles title.
The WTA event kicks off two weeks of top-class action on February 20th, with newly-crowned world number one Azarenka facing a field that features eight of the world’s top 10, including French Open title holder Li Na, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, US Open winner Samantha Stosur and Dubai defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.
Play then continues at the Dubai Tennis Stadium with the ATP Tour event, which begins on February 27th and also includes eight of the top 10. Djokovic faces a strong challenge from four-time champion Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 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.