Novak Djokovic to make comeback at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

Tournament will be world No 1's first since being kicked out of Australian Open over visa row

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Novak Djokovic will head an incredible line-up of the world’s best next month when the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships men’s tournament celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Djokovic is yet to play this year after his highly-publicised and controversial visa row in Australia, which ended with the world No 1 being deported shortly before the start of the Australian Open.

The 34-year-old Serb had arrived in Melbourne with a medical exemption against the mandatory Covid-19 vaccination, but after the courts initially overturned the border force's decision to cancel his visa, the Australian government's ruling to remove him from the country was upheld.

A list with Djokovic's name was leaked Tuesday and widely shared online, su that the 34-year-old Serb would mark the February 21-26 tournament for his return to action with organisers confirming his participation in a press release Thursday.

“We are thrilled to welcome so many top players to our 30th year celebrations of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” said Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free.

“We are delighted to see Novak back in Dubai for the 12th time when he will be seeking his sixth title and we wish him the best of luck.”

Djokovic has been a regular participant at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships throughout his career, competing 11 times since making his debut in 2007 and winning the title on five occasions, most recently in 2020.

He was in Dubai earlier this month when transiting through the airport on his way back to Belgrade following his deportation from Australia.

Djokovic transits through Dubai on way to Belgrade

Among those set to join the 20-time Grand Slam champion in Dubai are eight of the current top 20 players in the ATP rankings, including 2021 Dubai champion Aslan Karatsev, 2021 semi-finalists Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov and former champion Roberto Bautista Agut.

The ATP tournament will follow the week after the WTA competition, which on Tuesday announced a stacked line-up comprising nine of the world's top 10 and 17 of the top 20.

Confirmed players include second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka, world No 3 and defending champion Garbine Muguruza, and two-time Dubai winner Simona Halep.

“We can once more look forward to two weeks of fantastic tennis as we not only enjoy the 30th year celebrations of the ATP Tour event, but an incredible line-up of talent in the preceding WTA 500 tournament that features nine of the world’s top 10 and 17 of the top 20 women players, including no less than five previous Dubai winners all returning to one of their favourite tournaments,” said tournament director Salah Tahlak.

Tickets for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships are on sale online now with prices starting from Dh55, and tickets will also be available at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium Box Office from February 8.

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Updated: January 27, 2022, 10:20 AM