The stage is set for the 24th edition of the iconic ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships as the top players in the world get set to fight it out on the Hard Courts at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre. One of the most popular events at the ATP World Tour 500 level is destined to enthrall all tennis fanatics across the globe with a strong field.
With reigning champion Roger Federer not participating in this year’s edition, all the focus will be on World No.1 Novak Djokovic. The Serb, who recently won a record sixth Australian Open title, will be looking to reclaim the title in Dubai.
Djokovic is currently on a 12-match winning streak from Doha and Melbourne. The Top Seed, who is currently on a run of 7 consecutive titles and 17 finals, will be attempting to become only the second man to reach the finals of 18 consecutive events, after Ivan Lendl. He will also be looking to become the fourth man to win 8 consecutive tournaments, after Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Lendl. Other contenders include defending French Open Champion Stan Wawrinka who is seeded 2nd and former finalist Tomas Berdych.
To whet the appetite, Sport360 breaks down the facts, figures and stats from the tournament’s rich history.
1993 – The first edition of the Dubai Tennis Championships was played at the Aviation Club in 1993 as an ATP 250 event. Czech Karel Novacek was the winner of the inaugural edition, defeating Frenchman Fabrice Santoro in the final.
1996 – The event was played at the newly erected Dubai Tennis Stadium, which can accommodate 5,000 spectators.
2001 – ATP upgraded the tournament from a 250 level to a more reputable 500 level event.
$2.25 Million – The total prize purse for the event with close to $500,000 on offer for the eventual champion.
11 – Times in 12 years the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has been voted as the best ATP World Tour 500 Tournament (2003-06, 2008-14).
2 – Only two players other Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic have won the event since Federer’s first title back in 2003 (d. Jiri Novak) – Rafael Nadal (2006) and Andy Roddick (2008).
Younes El Aynaoui – is the only player from an Arab Country (Morocco) to make the final of the DTC (losing to Santoro in 2002).
7 – Federer is the all-time leader with 7 titles at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre (2003-05, 2007, 2012, 2014-15). Djokovic, who has won the event on 4 occasions (2009-11, 2013), follows him. Roger and Novak are the only players to have won multiple titles in Dubai.
9 – Federer has played in a record 9 finals at this ATP 500 event, including a record 5 consecutive finals (2003-07, 2011-12, 2014-15). Djokovic has featured in 5 finals (2009-11, 2013, 2015).
47 – Matches won by Federer at the DTC. The Swiss Maestro owns a record 47-5 (90.38%) win-loss record & has won close to $2.63 Million in prize money at the DTC.
34 – Matches won by Djokovic at the DTC. The Serbian owns a 34-5 (87.2%) win-loss record & has won close to $2.11 Million in prize money at the DTC.
14 – Russian Mikhail Youzhny will be making his 14th appearance in Dubai, the all-time record for most appearances in Dubai.
33 – The 2010 final was the longest final played at the DTC, featuring 33 games. Djokovic got the better of Youzhny in the final – 7-5, 5-7, 6-3.
12 – The 2001 final was the shortest final in the tournament history, featuring only 12 games. Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero got the better of Russian Marat Safin in the final – 6-2, 3-1 RET. Safin was forced to retire due a back injury.
33y 6m 16d – In 2015, Federer became the oldest winner at the DTC when he defeated Djokovic in a pulsating final. Federer is also the only 30+ winner of the event (2012, 2014-15).
19y 8m 25d – In 2006, Rafael Nadal became the youngest winner at the DTC when he defeated his greatest nemesis Federer in the final. Nadal is the only sub 20 winner of the event.
3 – Both Federer and Djokovic have managed to win a record 3 consecutive titles at the DTC (Federer: 2003-05; Djokovic: 2009-11).
19 – Federer managed to win 19 consecutive matches from 2003 to 2006, the best winning streak at the DTC. His run was ended by Nadal in the 2006 final. Djokovic won 18 matches from 2009 to 2012, before losing to Andy Murray in the 2012 SF.