An old racquet leads to new confidence for Martin Klizan as he arrives in Dubai

Ahmed Rizvi reports on Martin Klizan's ambitions for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where the talented by inconsistent Slovak could be a dark horse.

DUBAI // Martin Klizan, the Rotterdam champion and No 7 seed, got a taste of the often nasty Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships draws when he was handed a first clash against Australian bad boy Nick Kyrgios.

Making his first appearance in Dubai, Klizan could not have asked for a tougher first round opponent, though there are more than a few dangerous unseeded players in the fray like the two teenagers, Croatia’s Borna Coric and Hyeon Chung of South Korea.

“This will be an interesting match as we play against each other for the first time,” said Klizan. “First meeting against him and also for me this is the first time that I play in Dubai and I am happy for it. It will be a very interesting match for the crowd as well and I am looking forward to it.”

See more: The National's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships landing page

Klizan, 26, is coming to Dubai as one of the form players after reaching the semi-finals in Sofia and then winning the title in Rotterdam, which allowed him to leap 16 positions on the ATP rankings to No 27.

The Slovak southpaw started the year at No 43 and lost in the first round at his first three tournaments of 2016 – Qatar, Sydney and the Australian Open – losing to players outside the top 100 in the first two of those tournaments.

“It was very difficult as I changed my racquet for pre-season,” said Klizan, explaining his struggles in January. “I played two tournaments with my new racquet and then I changed to my old one.

“It was a very tough time for me, but now I feel very confident and I play good tennis. I use my old Head racquet now. I feel just so much more confident on the court now after Sofia and Rotterdam, and now I am looking forward to playing here.”

Long considered a top 20 prospect, Klizan’s lack of consistency has stopped him from getting there, but he insists he is not looking at the rankings, but wants to enjoy playing tennis instead.

“I don’t really think about whether I am going to be top 20 or top 10,” he said. “I am enjoying every game I play, every practice session and my goal is to stay healthy for the full season and all the weeks I want to play ... just enjoy the game and enjoy the show.

“I am going to try and not repeat the mistakes of the past. What I did before is gone in the past, when I played bad tennis. My goal now is to just stay focused.”

Besides that, Klizan said he did not have “any goals”.

“I am just trying to play the best tennis, be it in practice or during tournaments,” he added. “I am focused every time and fighting. I just want to play tennis and enjoy every moment. Tennis is a beautiful game and I just wanna enjoy the game.”

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