“Dubai is the Disneyland of sport for the rest of the world,” Maradona told media in an informal chat after watching the late-night match involving Sara Errani and Sorana Cirstea.
“I love tennis as a sport and I am really delighted that they have this tournament here because it attracts such great players from all over the world. This shows the beauty and greatness of Dubai and its leaders. They know what to do to make this place better.
“There is no place better than Dubai that can have such kind of events. Everyone is so much involved in sports.”
The former Al Wasl manager was made a sports ambassador for Dubai by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, last summer.
So Maradona came to watch some tennis on Wednesday night with world number one Serena Williams due to play Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli. However, Williams pulled out of the event citing a lower back injury and officials hurriedly shifted the first round doubles match involving Indian Sania Mirza and her American partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands against fifth seeds Liezl Huber and Hsieh Su-weih on to centre court. “I enjoyed the doubles match. It is quick and fast and I enjoyed watching the players and meeting them later,” Maradona said.
The Argentine was also sympathetic towards Cirstea after her loss to Errani. “She [Cirstea] was the much better player. She was hitting the ball well and she was winning all the good points, but she did not show patience,” he said.
“On the other hand, Errani was more strategic in her approach and that is what won her the match. It was a very enjoyable day for me to come and watch such a match.”
In between games, Maradona met up with former world number one and 2011 Dubai winner Caroline Wozniacki. “She has been a great number one. She is so beautiful, graceful and such an amazing person and it should have been me going and meeting her rather than her coming to meet me. I am flattered to meet such a humble person,” Maradona said.
The former Barcelona and Napoli star was disappointed with the last-minute withdrawal of Williams from the Dubai tournament. “She has such a huge presence in tennis and I would have been delighted watching her play. But, as any other sport, tennis has its fair share of injuries,” he said. “I wish her a quick recovery so that I can meet her personally some time soon.”