World No. 1 Novak Djokovic  will be on a mission to recapture the title he surrendered to Roger Federer  when he competes for a seventh straight time at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships  this month.
After taking his fourth Australian Open title last month, Djokovic will arrive full of confidence that he can wrestle back the crown he held for three consecutive years from 2009 to 2011.
“Novak Djokovic has shown what a great champion he is by winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships three times, a feat equalled only by Roger Federer between 2003 and 2005,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman of tournament owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free. “He has shown over and over again in the marathon matches he has played at the Grand Slams that he is a fighter of the highest quality, and we can expect him to give everything he has to justify his number one seeding as he attempts to re-take his title.”
The Serb first played in Dubai in 2007, losing in the quarter-finals to arch rival Federer in three sets. The next year he fell to eventual champion Andy Roddick in the semis, before getting a firm grip on the trophy for the next three years before Andy Murray ended his 18-match winning streak in the 2012 semi-finals.
Now he will be back to compete against a tough field that includes not only defending champion Federer, but also other top 10 opponents in the form of charismatic Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 2012 Davis Cup winner Tomas Berdych, fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic and former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, who took the bronze medal by beating Djokovic at the Olympics in 2012.
One other player he will be watching out for, though, is young gun Bernard Tomic, who inflicted a rare defeat on him in the Hopman Cup in January this year. After the defeat, Djokovic admitted he wasn’t yet close to his best, but still praised Tomic, saying he was in great form and deserved to win.
“I started my preparations much later than most of the other players due to the late season finish,” he said. “But it’s been like that for me over the years.” Djokovic’s dominating performance at the Australian Open certainly made up for his slow start to the year.
Djokovic is in demand by tournament directors all over the world and by necessity he has to turn down many of the requests he receives to play their events. But he is thrilled to be returning to Dubai, a tournament he has made a priority stop on the ATP World Tour.
“Dubai is always a great tournament,” he said. “A lot of the players have the same opinion as me. We feel very comfortable in this tournament. The site is great and the weather of course is fantastic and the organisers make us feel really good. I really look forward to coming back. You always have very good and intensive matches here and the attendance is great.”
The ATP World Tour event takes place between February 25 and March 2 and follows the WTA tournament that features an incredible nine of the world’s top 10. Beginning on February 18, the greatest tennis show in the Middle East will feature Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams, as well as former Grand Slam winners Petra Kvitova, Ana Ivanovic and Samantha Stosur.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.