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Tennis stars double up for UAE championship

Image for illustrative purpose.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (R) of the U.S. and Lucie Safarova (L) of Czech Republic celebrate defeating Zheng Jie of China and Chan Yung-Jan of Taiwan to win their women's doubles final match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne
 January 30, 2015.      REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Image for illustrative purpose. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (R) of the U.S. and Lucie Safarova (L) of Czech Republic celebrate defeating Zheng Jie of China and Chan Yung-Jan of Taiwan to win their women's doubles final match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Reuters/Carlos Barria

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2017

Dubai: Dubai tennis fans are set for some doubles delight as the Australian Open champions will join singles winner Roger Federer at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships this month.

And as an added bonus, world number one Andy Murray will make a rare appearance on the doubles court as he partners the legendary Nenad Zimonjic.

Finland’s Henri Kontinen and Australian partner John Peers delighted the Melbourne spectators when they defeated Bob and Mike Bryan, winning the Australian Open while surrendering just one set along the way. It was the pair’s maiden Grand Slam title, and came only weeks after they also won the Paris ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event and the 2016 season climax ATP World Finals in London.

With a combined 26 doubles titles between them and having claimed the three biggest titles on offer in recent weeks, Kontinen and Peers will clearly start as favourites to add Dubai to their rapidly growing list of tournament triumphs.

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Murray has concentrated all his efforts on becoming the number one singles player in the world and in 2016 he ventured onto the doubles court at an ATP World Tour event only twice, at Indian Wells and Monte Carlo. His only effort this season came in Doha, where he fell in the first round to David Marrero and Nenad Zimonjic, and it was perhaps there that Murray decided he would like to partner the Serbian in Dubai.

With 54 doubles titles to date, including two Wimbledons and a French Open and a title already this year in Sofia, an Australian Open final appearance and three runs to the quarter-finals of the US Open, Zimonjic is greatly in demand as a partner. He also has a fantastic record in Dubai, winning the title with Fabrice Santoro as long ago as 2007 and finishing as runner-up on no less than four occasions including three years in a row from 2013 to 2015.

Another legend among those challenging for the title is Daniel Nestor, winner of an astonishing 91 titles and holder of 60 runner-up trophies that include eight Grand Slam triumphs and four ATP World Tour Finals victories. The former world number one first reached the finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships as long ago as 2001, winning the first of his two titles here the following year. He won the title again in 2015, and the Canadian also finished as runner-up in 2006 and 2014.

“Watching the doubles is always an exciting and rewarding experience,” said Colm McLoughlin, executive vice-chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organisers.

“There are many thrilling battles throughout the week and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium is standing room only for the finals. With several of the most outstanding players of the last decade and more, and with the extra thrill of seeing the world’s number one singles player on the doubles court, Dubai’s tennis fans can look forward to one of the most exciting tournaments ever to be staged here.”

Tournament director Salah Tahlak said: “We are looking forward to seeing the Australian Open men’s doubles and singles champions in action in Dubai. The quality of the fields in both singles and doubles is superb, and with free admission to Courts 1, 2 and 3 fans are in for a treat as the best in the world battle it out for the title.”

Play begins on Sunday [February 19] with the WTA event that features reigning US Open champion and world number two Angelique Kerber, WTA Finals champion Dominika Cibulkova, 2016 French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, 2017 Brisbane winner Karolina Pliskova, 2017 Sydney champion Johanna Konta, and world number six and former Dubai winner Agnieszka Radwanska.

The tournament then continues with the star-studded ATP World Tour event which celebrates its 25th anniversary and includes not only world number one Andy Murray but 2017 Australian Open winner and seven-time Dubai champion Roger Federer, US Open champion and defending Dubai champion Stan Wawrinka, two-time finalist Tomas Berdych, flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils and perennial crowd favourite and 2016 Dubai runner-up Marcos Baghdatis.

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.

Tickets for every day of the event including the finals are still available from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud, which opens from 9 am to 9 pm daily. Tickets are also available online through https://www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com/en/tickets.

Staff Report

Gulf News 2017. All rights reserved.

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