Rublev, Medvedev and Zverev confirmed for Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

Djokovic and, fitness permitting, Nadal set to headline next month's ATP 500 tournament

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Defending champion Andrey Rublev, former world No 1 Daniil Medvedev, and Olympic gold medallist Alexander Zverev will join Novak Djokovic and, potentially, Rafael Nadal at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next month, organisers confirmed on Monday.

In the latest round of player announcements, Dubai will feature at least nine of the world's top 20, with Polish world No 11 Hubert Hurkacz, world No 18 Marin Cilic of Croatia, Spanish world No 15 Pablo Carreno Busta, and world No 20 Karen Kachanov of Russia also set to compete in the ATP 500 tournament.

“The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has a long history of providing fans with the chance to watch the best players in the world,” said Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free.

“With [nine] of the top 20 men, including Novak, as well as last year’s winner Andrey Rublev and a host of others, spectators in Dubai are in for another fantastic, unmissable tournament next month.”

Nadal had been the first headline name confirmed for the tournament, which takes place February 24 to March 4, but an injury at the Australian Open leaves the Spaniard's participation in serious doubt.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion is recovering from a leg injury sustained in his second-round defeat at Melbourne Park and said the expected recovery time is six to eight weeks, meaning he faces a race against time to be fit for Dubai.

“The news of Rafa Nadal’s injury last week in Melbourne was most unfortunate. We wish him all the best for a rapid return to full health and fitness; his well-being is the priority,” tournament director Salah Tahlak said. “We are in contact with Rafa’s team and will be monitoring the situation in the coming days and weeks.”

Novak Djokovic, in Melbourne bidding for a 10th Australian Open title, will return to Dubai next month. AP

Should Nadal be absent, the Dubai field will still be stacked with plenty of top players.

Djokovic, who began his 2022 season in Dubai after a visa saga in Australia led to his deportation, is no stranger to the tournament having won the trophy six times. The Serb is currently back in Australia where he continues his bid for a record-extending 10th Australian Open title.

Rublev returns to the Aviation Club to defend the title he won last year when he beat Jiri Vesely in the final. The Russian world No 6 is also still going strong at the Australian Open having booked his place in the quarter-finals on Monday.

Daniil Medvedev will compete in Dubai for the third time in is career. AFP

Medvedev returns to Dubai for the third time and first since 2019, when he lost in the first round. The Russian, however, will arrive back in the UAE as a Grand Slam champion having won the 2021 US Open.

Meanwhile, Zverev will compete in Dubai for just the second time in his career - having made his debut in 2015 - as the German continues his comeback from the ankle injury which ruled him out for most of last season.

The ATP tournament will be held the week after the WTA event, where world No 1 Iga Swiatek and second-ranked Ons Jabeur will headline.

Updated: January 23, 2023, 10:57 AM