Novak Djokovic is set to return to action at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships this month, and tournament director Salah Tahlak will be delighted to welcome him back in front of packed-out crowds.
Djokovic will make his first appearance on the court for the tournament since the world No. 1 was deported from Australia due to his vaccination status.
The Serb is hoping to recover from his failed legal battle and compete his sixth title in Dubai, with the action getting underway on February 14 and concluding 12 days later.
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Despite the controversy that surrounds him, the United Arab Emirates is reportedly ready to welcome Djokovic with open arms.
“I think we have to always be positive. Dubai is a positive city. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed is always positive,” Tahlak told Khaleej Times.
“He [Sheikh Mohammed] said whatever happened in the history, leave it behind you. Let’s not go for it, if we stand still, that’s not going to help. It’s always better to think ahead and it’s always better to think about the future and always be positive.
“I think it’s great to have him [Djokovic] back because he is the number one player in the world. He has been our former champion and for this city and this tournament, it’s absolutely great to have him back.”
A further boost to the tournament is the return of fans at 100 per cent capacity, which Tahlak revealed on Saturday, in what he hopes will be a fantastic spectacle of tennis.
“It’s a great feeling [to be hosting the tournament again]. We were so happy two days ago when we got an email from the Dubai Sports Council that we are back to 100 per cent, instead of 80,” he said.
“Although the tickets are sold out, but we have a few tickets that we kept, just in case. So now it’s amazing.”
Away from the men’s side of the tournament, there is also plenty of excitement surrounding the women’s section, after the draw pitted the top 10 players against one another.
“Every single match (in the women’s tournament) will be like the final match,” Tahlak added.
“It’s a great draw. We have nine of the top 10 and 18 of top 20. This is the first time ever we have four former champions and Grand Slam champions [in the draw].”

Aryna Sabalenka | Tennis | Australian Open 2022 | ESP Player Feature

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World number two and top seed Aryna Sabalenka will kickstart her quest for glory against a qualifier, looking to build on her success in Doha and Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile, reigning champion Garbine Muguruza starts her title defence against losing Australian Open finalist, Danielle Collins.
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