(CREDIT: Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship website)
Celebrating its 25th anniversary the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship gets underway on the 19th February.
From humble beginnings in 1993 the tournament has gone from strength to strength attracting some of the biggest names in tennis.
Swiss Roger Federer has dominated the men’s singles’ tournament – winning the title, a record seven times, most recently in 2015.
He returns this year to challenge defending champion Stan Wawrinka, who beat veteran Marcos Baghdatis to clinch his first victory in Dubai, World number 1 Sir Andy Murray, two-time finalist Tomas Berdych and flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils.
Speaking on The Grill, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship Tournament Director, Salah Tahlek, says Roger Federer is very special to Dubai.
“He’s a great ambassador for sports in general and a great ambassador for tennis. He’s like a Rolls Royce of cars, he was picked for many awards worldwide, different magazines, and newspaper.”
The inaugural women’s tournament took place in 2001 with Martina Hingis taking the title.
For five years it was the Belgian Justine Henin that was invincible in Dubai between 2003 and 2007, winning the singles title a record four times. Her domination came to an end in 2008, with Elena Dementieva ending the Belgian’s reign.
In the years that followed Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams also took the title with the Dane hoping to see a return to form in Dubai this year.
As the tournament’s grown so has that cash pot, this year the women’s singles winner will earn over AED 7.3 million.
The reigning champion, Italy’s Sara Errani will face some tough competition this year with seven of the world’s top 10 on the hunt for the trophy.
Tickets for the tournament are still available at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship website.
Listen to the full interview with Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship Tournament Director, Salah Tahlek.