June 23, 2017

Andy Murray Wins His First Dubai Title

Andy Murray


(March 4, 2017) DUBAI, UAE – Andy Murray won his 45th ATP World Tour crown on Saturday when he defeated former Top Ten player Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-2 to claim his first title of the year as well as his first Dubai title.

The Scot, Murray battled back from 1-3 down in the first set.

“It’s nice to win and I played much better as the match went on,” said the world’s top player. I started a little bit slow, but I was solid. I wasn’t afraid to attack his forehand side. He’s got one of the best forehands, but I tried to move him around the court as much as I could.

“I defended pretty well and moved well. I served a lot better as the match went on. It was obviously good to win the first tournament here.”


“I think that obviously I had, if not the toughest opponent I can have in the final, then one of them, for sure,” noted the Spaniard. He’s No. 1 in the world right now. It was obviously a really difficult final to win, but I came trying everything and giving everything.

“I said that yesterday that being in the final of a 500 after five years is a great week for me and I have to take the positive things.”
“It was obviously a really difficult final to win, but I came trying everything and giving everything. Just, of course, he doesn’t put the things easy to you. He push you. And at the same time, I didn’t really feel as comfortable or hitting the ball as clean as days before. Also, he’s used to it, to play matches like this more than me. I think physically I was not that fresh. I felt that kind of like in the balls that I needed to stretch so much, or he opened the court so much. And obviously even when I had a little bit of advantage in the first set with the breaks up, I couldn’t really find my rhythm. Of course it’s disappointing. Even if he is number one in the world, I want to win.”


Murray became the fourth man this year to come back and win a tournament after saving match point. Murray saved match points in his quarterfinal against Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Murray is now 19-0 in his last four 500-level tournaments entered having triumphed at London/Queen’s Club, Beijing, Vienna.
Fernando Verdasco will return to the top 30 in the rankings on Monday for the first time since April of 2015.


In the doubles, Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau lifted the champions trophy with a 4-6 6-3 10-3 win over Rohan Bopanna and Marcin Matkowski. It is their 13th title together, which includes both Wimbledon and the ATP World Tour Finals in 2015. It is Rojer’s 22nd doubles title and Tecau’s thirtieth. Bopanna was seeking his fourth Dubai title after winning in 2012, 2014 and 2015, all with different partners.


All photos by Nida Alibhai.



Andy Murray to Play Fernando Verdasco in Dubai Final

Andy Murray

(March 3, 2017) DUBAI, UAE: Andy Murray will face Fernando Verdasco in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, after the world No. 1 beat seventh seed Lucas Pouille 7-5, 6-1, and in a match between two unseeded players, Fernando Verdasco defeated Robin Haase 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-1. Murray has won 12 of his 13 matches against Verdasco, with their most recent meeting coming in Paris at the end of last season.


“I don’t think it was the best match” said Murray, who will be contesting his second final in three tournaments this year after finishing as runner-up in Doha. “A lot of mistakes. You know, there was some good stuff in there, I think, middle and towards the end of the first set. But neither of us served well at the beginning. He didn’t make hardly any first serves his first few service games, and I was struggling a bit there too.


“I think potentially matches yesterday had something to do with that, because I think sometimes, you know, if your legs are a little bit tired that the serve is one of the first things that goes. As the match went on, I started serving a bit better and that helped me. Yeah, the first set was very important to win after how the matches went yesterday.”


In the deciding set of the second semifinal, Verdasco took a commanding 4-1 lead. Although Haase held two break points in the sixth game Verdasco  went on to break serve yet again to claim a place in the final.


“After that second set, I start thinking to hit the ball a little bit more, going through the ball instead of going back, try to be more aggressive,” said Verdasco. “He was serving really good, I think, the whole match. Great directions, around 190 to 200 all the time, and it was not easy. Even the second serve, it was with a lot of spin and tough to go through the ball and put a good return. So it was a really tough match. Needed to be there, of course, till the last point, and I think that game of course with 4-1 coming back with my serve, recovering that break points, gave me a push of confidence and energy.”


Haase admitted that Verdasco came out firing in the third set and there wasn’t much he could do.


“He has a toilet break (after the second set), he comes back, and he hit some rockets with new balls. Even on my serve he just went for it. I think I lose the first five, six points without having a chance,” said Haase. “So credit for him. Great job. I tried. I kept fighting. I have chances to even break back to go to 4-2, but he was just too good at the end. It’s been a very good week, but I could have won today. So now I’m really, really, really disappointed.”


Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau upset top seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers 7-6 (8), 6-3 and will play Rohan Bopanna and Marcin Matkowski in the doubles final. It was the first loss for Kontinen and Peers since October 31st, since when they won Paris, the ATP World Tour Finals and the Australian Open


Andy Murray Saves Seven Match Points to Advance in Dubai



Andy Murray Courtesy of the Dubai Tennis Championships 2017

(March 2, 2017) DUBAI, UAE:  Andy Murray saved seven match points to advance to the semifinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships over Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-7 (4), 7-6 (18), 6-1 in just under three hours. The 31-minute second set tiebreak saw he world No. 1 fight off off seven match points before finally levelling the match on his eighth set point. In the deciding set, Murray held off a break point at 1-1 but then took control. He admitted that he had never won a match after saving so many match points.


“Never,” he said. “And I have never played a tiebreak that long ever. Not in juniors, nothing even close to that, I don’t think. Yeah, obviously a long, long tiebreak. And I’ll probably never play another one like that again. I have been playing on the tour for 11, 12 years now, and nothing’s been close to that. There was definitely some unbelievable points in that second-set tiebreak. Obviously we both missed a couple of shots, but in general I think the level was extremely high. He was hitting the ball so hard tonight, I mean, from both sides. Any time he had the opportunity he was ripping the ball and made it really, really tough.


“They can be very important matches to get through, ones like that. I could have obviously easily lost tonight, but, you know, the way that I played when I was behind will give me a lot of confidence. It was a tough start to the year, and to get through a match like that against a guy who I think played very, very well, I really had to earn it. It was big for me. I want to try and keep that going now.”


Kohlschreiber found positives despite his defeat, saying, “Of course losing is always disappointing, but I’m not sad. I think I played great tennis, one of my best matches. Okay, the result is sad, but the way I played, the way I enjoyed myself on the court, nothing to be sad about. I think we both played almost the best tennis we can play, I guess. I think it was a very great match. Well-deserved, he’s a great fighter, he never gave up.”


Murray will next play Lucas Pouille. The seventh seed took two hours 20-minutes to end the run of qualifier Evgeny Donskoy, who had stunned Roger Federer in the previous round, but eventually prevailed 6-4 5-7 7-6 (2). The other semi-final features Fernando Verdasco against Robin Haase. Verdasco beat fourth seed Gael Monfils 6-3 7-5, and Haase followed up his victory over fifth seed Tomas Berdych by beating defending champion Stan Wawrinka’s conqueror, Damir Dzumhur, 6-2 4-6 6-4.


“I think I played almost perfect match,” said Verdasco. “I mean, maybe I could be a little bit more aggressive on my serve, but of course if I look more for an aggressive serve, my percentage will go down and play with second serves, and I think against him, playing with second serves, I will be like defending on many points. You know, very happy, I think, like really complete match, in general.”


Dzumhur made too many unforced errors in the first set, but he steadied in the second and Haase felt he failed to maintain his standards of the opening set.


“He made less errors, but also I played less deep and less aggressive. I think it’s always a combination of the two,” said Haase. “He’s known for not giving you anything, so I knew it was going to be a tough match.”


Roger Federer Loses to Qualifier Evgeny Donskoy in Dubai

Evgeny Donskoy

(March 1, 2017) DUBAI, UAE:  Seven-time champion Roger Federer lost to 116th– ranked  qualifier Evgeny Donskoy 3-6, 7-6(7), 7-6 (5) on Wednesday. It is his earliest defeat in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships since he was beaten by Andy Murray in the first round in 2008. It is also only the third time since 2007 that he has lost to a qualifier. Federer led 5-2 in the final set and lost four straight games. Federer led 5-1 in the third set tiebreak and lost the next six straight points.


“Maybe it wasn’t really committed enough, I think,” said Federer. “Commitment in tennis is a big thing. In the first round I was. Today I wasn’t, really. That sort of is a feeling you get and it trickles in an entire game. I thought I returned way better in the first round. Today I really struggled on the return. I didn’t quite really time it well. Yeah, timing I thought was off for me today. Legs also felt slower out here tonight. I felt tired all day. I tried to get myself in shape, and, you know, like warm up properly, do all the things I always do, regardless if it’s a first round or a final.


“There’s no excuses there. I just think it’s still the beginning of the comeback and gotta take the positives out of, you know, playing again a tournament where I feel I’m quite healthy and I’m happy I got over the (groin) injury I sustained at the Australian Open. Maybe didn’t allow me to practice as much as I was hoping to in Switzerland, but at the same time also needed the rest. (But) there was also no problem there, really. I came early. I was perfectly prepared. It’s just a tough loss tonight. So many chances. It was crazy.”


Donskoy revealed that with his coach absent this week he is being helped by former two-time Dubai finalist Mikhail Youzhny, and said, “It was really tough in the beginning, because it was too much pressure. I mean, I felt it on myself, because it’s Roger, and I never even practice with him. So it was tough. And that many people. I’m used to playing on centre court and many people, but Roger is different moment. And then, like, when you winning some games then you start to think, like, okay. I was saying to myself, like, do your legs lower, because if I stand up I getting so much mistake. That’s what I said to myself.”


World No. 1 Andy Murray reached the quarterfinals with an easy win over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2 ,6-0. But fifth seed and two-time finalist Tomas Berdych and sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut lost. Berdych lost3-6, 6-3,6-4 against Robin Haase, and Bautista Agut lost a two hour 25-minute battle with Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.


“When I got the early break, pretty much was almost 30 minutes in and we’d only played four games. Mentally, that was important for me, you know, to be up at that stage,” said Murray. “It could have gone either way, obviously, first few games. But being up at that stage helped, and then I loosened up a bit after that and played really well.


“It was way better than how I played at the beginning of the year, that’s for sure. You know, playing aggressive, feeling more solid, and when I’m in position to dictate the points I’m doing it, moving forward. I hit my forehand very well last couple of matches. I served better today. It’s been a good start. Obviously matches will get tougher, but I’m much happier with how I’m playing.”


Fourth seed Gael Monfils was also stretched by Daniel Evans but won 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, and recent Marseille finalist and number seven seed Lucas Pouille eased past qualifier Marius Copil 6-1, 6-4. Damir Dzumhur followed up his defeat of defending champion Stan Wawrinka by beating Marcel Granollers, recovering from 1-4 in the second set to take the next five games and claim a 6-3, 6-4 victory, and Philipp Kohlschreiber earned a single break in each set to defeat Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-4.

Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
Dubai, U.A.E.


Singles – Second Round
[1] A. Murray (GBR) d G. Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 62 60
[Q] E. Donskoy (RUS) d [3] R. Federer (SUI) 36 76(7) 76(5) – saved 3 m.p.
[4] G. Monfils (FRA) d D. Evans (GBR) 64 36 61
R. Haase (NED) d [5] T. Berdych (CZE) 36 63 64
F. Verdasco (ESP) d [6] [WC] R. Bautista Agut (ESP) 64 36 75
[7] L. Pouille (FRA) d [Q] M. Copil (ROU) 61 64
P. Kohlschreiber (GER) d D. Medvedev (RUS) 64 64
D. Dzumhur (BIH) d M. Granollers (ESP) 63 64

Doubles – Quarter-finals
[1] H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS) d D. Evans (GBR) / G. Muller (LUX) 76(1) 64
R. Bopanna (IND) / M. Matkowski (POL) d F. Mergea (ROU) / V. Troicki (SRB) 63 64

Doubles – First Round
P. Kohlschreiber (GER) / F. Mayer (GER) d L. Pouille (FRA) / F. Verdasco (ESP) w/o (Pouille: bicep strain)
G. Garcia-Lopez (ESP) / L. Paes (IND) d [Q] J. Cerretani (USA) / P. Oswald (AUT) 62 64


CENTRE COURT start 3:00 pm
R. Haase (NED) vs D. Dzumhur (BIH)
F. Verdasco (ESP) vs [4] G. Monfils (FRA)
Not Before 7:00 pm
[1] A. Murray (GBR) vs P. Kohlschreiber (GER)
[Q] E. Donskoy (RUS) vs [7] L. Pouille (FRA)

COURT 1 start 5:00 pm
G. Garcia-Lopez (ESP) / L. Paes (IND) vs [3] D. Nestor (CAN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA)
After Suitable Rest – [4] J. Rojer (NED) / H. Tecau (ROU) vs P. Kohlschreiber (GER) / F. Mayer (GER)


Elina Svitolina Reaches Top Ten with Dubai Title Win

(February 25, 2017) DUBAI – Elina Svitolina won the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title with 6-4 6-2 win over former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. This is the biggest title in the Ukrainian’s career, which will place her in the top ten on the WTA Tour when next rankings come out on Monday. She’ll be the first woman from her country to ever reach the top ten since the rankings were introduced in 1975. This is her sixth career title.


This was Svitolina’s second title in a month, who also won in Taipei, and a second final in two weeks for Wozniacki after she also finished as runner-up in Doha.


“I’ve dreamed for all my life to be in the Top 10,” said the 22-year-old Svitolina. “It’s a very amazing feeling and to do it by winning the tournament – I’m very excited for the season and very excited I could win this tournament.”

“It’s big relief that I could win this match, because I knew that if I gonna win this match, I’m gonna be top 10. There was extra pressure. When I was warming up, added even more pressure because they announce it. It didn’t help! I’m really happy the way I played the match. It was the way I was working on, and I’m really happy that I could play my game today.”



“She gets a lot of balls back. She mixed up the pace well. She did what she had to do today,” said Wozniacki. “I think I started off really well. I feel like I was inside the court a lot. You know, I was dictating and playing well. Then I kind of felt like I ran out of steam a little bit and she took advantage of that. She stepped it up a little bit.  She played really well, got a lot of balls back. She mixed up the pace when she needed to. She was serving better than me today. I really tried hard. Obviously it’s frustrating when you see what you want to do out there and you just can’t do it. You know, that’s the most frustrating feeling. I feel like if I had gotten, you know, maybe to 5-All or, you know, gotten a little bit closer in that first set, it could have been different.”



The tournament continues between 27th February and 4th March with the 25th staging of the ATP World Tour event which includes Wimbledon, Olympic and ATP World Tour Finals champion and world No. 1 Andy Murray, seven-time Dubai winner and Australian Open champion Roger Federer, defending Dubai champion Stan Wawrinka, two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych and the Gael Monfils.


All photos by Nida Alibhai.



Former Champ Wozniacki and Gold Medalist Puig Advance, While Vandeweghe Loses To Riske in Dubai

Caroline Wozniacki, courtesy of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

(February 20, 2017) Former champion Caroline Wozniacki began the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships winning 6-2, 7-5 over teenager Daria Kasatkina. Although Wozniacki is just off reaching the final of Doha.


“Well, obviously seeing the draw, it’s like, well, could have had an easier first round,” said Wozniacki, who won the title in 2011 and has reached the semifinals in her last four apperances in Dubai. “She’s a good young player. She mixes up the pace a lot. She kind of tries to bring you out of your rhythm and she has great hands. I was really pleased with how I was able to just stay focused out there from the beginning. I didn’t really know how I was going to play to start off with. Generally, I was pleased with my game.”


Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig who is nursing a sore back, beat Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Puig had a medical time out after the second set.


“It’s just some lower back soreness,” Puig said. “I came from Doha two days ago, so the balls are a bit different. The court is definitely much different than in Doha. It’s just something that I have to go and get treatment with, but it’s really no big deal.”


Eleventh seed CoCo Vandeweghe lost 6-4, 6-4 to Fed cup teammate Alison Riske, and 13th seed Kiki Bertens was also upset, losing 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 to Christine McHale. Peng Shuai took full advantage of her wild card, overwhelming Lesia Tsurenko 6-1 6-1 in just 55 minutes, and Elise Mertens became the third qualifier to reach the second round when she defeated Tsvetana Pironkova 6-3 6-2.


The top eight seeds received first round byes and will be in action from Tuesday. They include US Open champion and world number two Angelique Kerber, 2017 Brisbane and Doha champion Karolina Pliskova, WTA Finals winner Dominika Cibulkova, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, and former Dubai winner Agnieszka Radwanska.


“There are so many top players competing on Tuesday that not all can be scheduled on Centre Court,” said tournament director Salah Tahlak. “That means spectators will be able to see stars such as Caroline Wozniacki, Olympic gold medal winner Monica Puig and Tunisian qualifier Ons Jabeur free of charge on the outside courts. As an added bonus, they will also be able to catch one of the greatest players of all time, Martina Hingis, in doubles action.”

17-25 FEBRUARY, 2017

Singles – First Round

[10] C. Wozniacki (DEN) d D. Kasatkina (RUS) 62 75
A. Riske (USA) d [11] C. Vandeweghe (USA) 64 64
C. Mchale (USA) d [13] K. Bertens (NED) 67(5) 63 64
C. Bellis (USA) d [17] Y. Putintseva (KAZ) 61 75
M. Puig (PUR) d Y. Shvedova (KAZ) 63 46 64
A. Konjuh (CRO) d S. Zhang (CHN) 60 61
M. Doi (JPN) d M. Brengle (USA) 62 67(4) 63
L. Davis (USA) d [LL] M. Minella (LUX) 26 62 61
K. Bondarenko (UKR) d [Q] A. Sabalenka (BLR) 46 64 63
[Q] E. Mertens (BEL) d T. Pironkova (BUL) 63 62
[WC] S. Peng (CHN) d L. Tsurenko (UKR) 61 61
K. Mladenovic (FRA) d K. Siniakova (CZE) 63 63

Doubles – First Round

[6] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / S. Peng (CHN) d C. Liang (CHN) / Z. Yang (CHN) 75 62
V. Golubic (SUI) / Kr. Pliskova (CZE) d R. Atawo (USA) / Y. Xu (CHN) 64 62
A. Groenefeld (GER) / K. Peschke (CZE) d [WC] F. Al Nabhani (OMA) / M. Barthel (GER) 46 61 11-9
R. Olaru (ROU) / O. Savchuk (UKR) d N. Hibino (JPN) / A. Rosolska (POL) 46 76(4) 10-4
A. Klepac (SLO) / M. Martínez Sánchez (ESP) d J. Jankovic (SRB) / A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 64 64

CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[3] D. Cibulkova (SVK) vs E. Makarova (RUS)
[Q] E. Mertens (BEL) vs [4] A. Radwanska (POL)
[5] G. Muguruza (ESP) vs K. Bondarenko (UKR)
K. Mladenovic (FRA) vs [2] Ka. Pliskova (CZE)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[1] A. Kerber (GER) vs [WC] M. Barthel (GER)
[Q] S. Zheng (CHN) vs [7] E. Svitolina (UKR)

COURT 1 start 12:00 noon
M. Puig (PUR) vs [15] C. Garcia (FRA)
[12] S. Stosur (AUS) vs A. Konjuh (CRO)

Not Before 4:00 pm
V. Golubic (SUI) vs [10] C. Wozniacki (DEN)
[9] B. Strycova (CZE) vs [WC] S. Peng (CHN)

COURT 2 start 12:00 noon
C. Bellis (USA) vs L. Siegemund (GER)
L. Davis (USA) vs Kr. Pliskova (CZE)

Not Before 4:00 pm
A. Sevastova (LAT) vs A. Riske (USA)

COURT 3 start 12:00 noon
M. Doi (JPN) vs [8] E. Vesnina (RUS)
[Q] O. Jabeur (TUN) vs Q. Wang (CHN)
C. Mchale (USA) vs N. Osaka (JPN)
[4] Y. Chan (TPE) / M. Hingis (SUI) vs A. Groenefeld (GER) / K. Peschke (CZE)

COURT 7 start 12:00 noon
[7] A. Spears (USA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs L. Kichenok (UKR) / N. Kichenok (UKR)
D. Jurak (CRO) / A. Rodionova (AUS) vs G. Dabrowski (CAN) / J. Ostapenko (LAT)
A. Klepac (SLO) / M. Martínez Sánchez (ESP) vs [2] E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS)
E. Mertens (BEL) / A. Naydenova (BUL) vs [5] H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ)


Third Appearance is a Charm for Stan Wawrinka Who Wins Dubai

227 Wawrinka fistpump and yell

(February 27, 2016) DUBAI, UAE – Second seed Stan Wawrinka defeated unseeded Marcos Baghdatis to win his first Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships for the Swiss’ 13th tennis title, second of the year. Third time was the charm for the two-time major champion as it was Wawrinka’s third appearance in the tournament, having lost in the first round of the previous two he played.

Wawrinka, who has a perfect record against the Cypriot (6-0), was the 2013 ‘s-Hertogenbosch final to Nicolas Mahut. He is now 13-9 in finals. It was his second

Wawrinka is the just the fifth active player to have won nine of more finals in a row, joining the company fellow Swiss Roger Federer (24, also 13 and 10), Rafael Nadal (14, also 9 twice), Novak Djokovic (9) and Tommy Haas (9).

The world No. 4 was just two points away from elimination in his opening match against Sergiy Stakhovsky.

“I’m really happy to have another trophy,” said Wawrinka. “It’s amazing feeling, especially that today I was playing some really good tennis. It was a tough final against Marcos. I’m really happy again to have the trophy. It was tough beginning (of the week), but always trying to fight, always trying to improve day by day even if I wasn’t playing great at the beginning.

“So far it’s been some amazing year. I’m playing my best tennis since few years now, so hopefully I can keep the level and keep playing well this year.”

Asked about his streak in finals, Wawrinka replied: “There is no explanation. I also know that more I win matches in the same week, more confidence I get. I know that’s normally when I get some finals I play my best tennis. So far it’s been some great nine finals.

“But I don’t think about it. I just try to go on court, to step on the court, try to get the trophy because at the end that’s what I want.”

“As long as I’m fit, playing well, I’m going to play,” said the 30-year-old. “So far it’s been some amazing year. I’m playing my best tennis since few years now, so hopefully I can keep the level and keep playing well this year.”

Baghdatis, a former Australian Open finalist is making his move back up the rankings after a few years battling injuries.

“I have been playing very well throughout last year, too,” he said. “I think I had some great matches also last year.

“I mean, like I said last year, I lost 11 times to the winner of the tournament, 3 times to the finalist of the tournament. This year I lost four matches. Three of them are to the winner of the tournaments. So I think I’m playing very good tennis. It’s just this week I think I was a bit lucky and I went through the quarterfinals and the semifinals, you know. I found my way to win. I think, like I said, more matches at this stage, at this level I think will make me improve. That’s what’s happening.

“You know, I didn’t win the tournament this week but I won a lot more, you know. I won my confidence back.

“I see — I mean, with my team we see the way to come back, you know. It’s a small light that we see, I mean, in the tunnel.

“We come from a long way back. You know, I’m happy I’m back and playing this kind of tennis now. It’s just to continue improving, and, like I said, play at this level throughout the year.”

Baghdatis has now lost in 7 straight finals.

“I think just playing this level more often. I think that was the difference,” he said. “I think more matches throughout the year at this level would make me go in there and believe from the beginning that I can win, not wait three, four games and start believing. You know, I didn’t win the tournament this week but I won a lot more. I won my confidence back. I’m happy I’m back and playing this kind of tennis now.”

“I think the atmosphere out there, no doubt one of the best I ever had,” said the Cypriot. “You know, I mean, every time I come here in Dubai there is a great atmosphere. Every time I play here in centre court there is a great atmosphere. So it wasn’t a surprise for me. I love playing here. I want to thank all the people that came out here today and performed that atmosphere.”

The highlight of the match came in the second set tiebreak. Wawrinka had a 4-1 lead and Baghdatis came back to level the tiebreak and had four set points, but Wawrinka’s defense stopped his opponent and he held on to win the tiebreak 15-13. Game, set and match 6-4, 7-6(13).

Baghdatis will see his ranking go up from 57 into the top forty.



Singles – Final
[2] S. Wawrinka (SUI) d M. Baghdatis (CYP) 64 76(13)

Doubles – Final
S. Bolelli (ITA) / A. Seppi (ITA) d F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP) 62 36 14-12 – Saved 2 M.P.


All photos by Nida Alibhai


Wawrinka and Baghdatis Reach Dubai Final

226 Wawrinka  smiles in press

(February 26, 2016) DUBAI, UAE – Second seed Stan Wawrinka and unseeded Marcos Baghdatis will face off in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Wawrinka advanced to the final leading 6-4, 3-0 when Nick Kyrgios was forced to retire with a back injury. Baghdatis rallied to defeat to defeat sixth seed Feliciano Lopez 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-1.

Despite the victory, Wawrinka is still not happy with his play.

“Not yet, but I’m in finals so there is one more match to play my best tennis. That’s the most important,” Wawrinka said. “For sure if you look from the beginning of the week I was not playing great at all. I was trying to find a way, frustrated during matches but still fighting and trying to find solutions to win more matches during the week to play better.

“I start to feel way better already yesterday. I feel that on the court I start to feel better. I know what to expect. I’m moving better. I’m a little bit more relaxed and my strokes are going better.”

“The tension was there because it’s a semifinal and I don’t want to lose. I want to win. I want to play better tennis. I want to be in the final and have a chance to get the trophy.

“That’s why I get the tension. But the rest, to play him I don’t think wasn’t, from my side, anything special.”

226 Kyrgios trainer

“I had a bit of a hip injury at the start of Marseilles,” Kygrios said. “That was still sort of bothering me a little bit. I was sort of struggling with a couple of niggles,” Kyrgios said. “It was a bit of a struggle, to be honest. I have been feeling so bad every day, like I’ve got some viral infection as well.”

“I couldn’t really serve anywhere near my full capacity today. I mean, he was playing great, anyway. He was playing really aggressive off the second shot of his serve.”


226 Bagdatis kisses court

“It’s been a long road for me the last three, four years,” said the former Australian Open finalist Baghdatis. “It’s all about fighting, getting back to where I want to be. Last year we set some goals to be top 50 with my team. I achieved that. Now I’m moving forward. I think I have still a lot to improve on, but the most important thing is healthy-wise I’m very, very good. I don’t have any injuries and health problems that I had.”

“I mean, he was the better player today I think the first two sets,” said the Cypriot. “He couldn’t hold his nerves. End of the second he was a break up at 4-3, and serving with new balls he couldn’t hold his nerves.

“The crowd helped me amazingly there, and, yeah, I found a way to fight in the second and win it. I think I played an unbelievable tiebreak, very solid, returned very well, served very well.

“Then started to get momentum in the third. And once I did the break and then hold after the 2-1, Love-40 on my serve, then everything went pretty smooth.”


Wawrinka on playing Baghdatis: “Marcos since the beginning of the year is playing better. He’s saying he’s happy with his fitness, with his game. You can see the way he’s playing. Yesterday he was playing really well against Bautista. It’s going to be interesting match.”


“He’s unbelievable player,” Baghdatis said about Wawrinka. “I think he has a better percentage of winning tomorrow, that’s for sure.

“I mean, the last two years he’s very consistent. He’s having his best years of his life. Winning two Grand Slams, that’s amazing. I think he’s a guy who deserves it.

“But I cannot tell you much more. You know, I’m going to sit down with my coach tomorrow morning or maybe tonight and talk about it a bit.”

All photos by Nida Alibhai


Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships


Singles – Semi-finals
[2] S. Wawrinka (SUI) d N. Kyrgios (AUS) 64 30 ret. (back problem)
M. Baghdatis (CYP) d [6] F. Lopez (ESP) 36 76(1) 61

Doubles – Semi-finals
F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP) d [Q] H. Chung (KOR) / J. Vesely (CZE) 64 76(6)
S. Bolelli (ITA) / A. Seppi (ITA) d L. Kubot (POL) / M. Matkowski (POL) 64 64

CENTRE COURT start 5:00 pm
F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP) vs S. Bolelli (ITA) / A. Seppi (ITA)
Not Before 7:00 pm
M. Baghdatis (CYP) vs [2] S. Wawrinka (SUI)


Djokovic Retires from Dubai Match with Infection in his Eyes

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(February 25, 2016) Top seed Novak Djokovic was forced to retire with an infection in both eyes after losing the first set 6-3, which gave sixth seed Feliciano Lopez a place in the semifinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday.


“It’s an eye problem,” Djokovic said. “I have had it ever since I arrived to Dubai. Started with an infection and then severe allergy. That’s what I was told. It’s gotten worse in the last two days, unfortunately. It’s the first time that I have had such a problem with the eye. It was unfortunate. It was ultra sensitive today, the lights, and just wasn’t to be.

“I’m really sad to finish the tournament this way. I apologise of course. I apologise to all the people who came in to watch the match. I apologise to the tournament director and everybody who came out to support me. You know, I’m really sad to end out the tournament this way, but I was forced to.”


“I just hope that this problem with the eye will fade away in the next couple of days. I got a lot of important events waiting for me in the next period. Of course Davis Cup back home and Indian Wells, Miami, and of course clay court season.

“So, you know, physically I feel fine. Mentally, as well. It’s just something that I hope that is gonna, you know, vanish after several days, but in contrary, it was getting worse. I have to deal with it.”


“I was instructed not to wear contact lenses because of the fact that lenses are actually not helping this situation actually. They are making it worse. So I was wearing contacts only on the match yesterday night. And today, other than that, I was not wearing them at all.

“That’s all. You know, that’s all I can say. If I had a third eye I would, you know, play the tournament. I’m sorry that I’m talking to you now with my sunglasses at 10:00 p.m. It’s not a usual sight, but that’s what it is and just hoping it’s going to get better.”


“It’s very sad when you play against one of the best players in the history of the sport and he has to retire the way he did,” said Lopez. “He told me he had an infection in the eyes since a few days already. I had no idea and I just went on court without knowing about his illness.


“I felt that he was taking risks a little bit more than normal in some of the points that we played, especially when I made the break. Then he was trying to be more aggressive. Seems like he was not taking care of his shots sometimes. He was very aggressive where he normally don’t. So that’s why I kind of realized that something was going on.”


Second seed Stan Wawrinka beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5, 6-1 and he now takes on unseeded Nick Kyrgios, who beat third seed and two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-4.


“Quite happy with the match today,” Warinka said. “Was feeling better on the court. Better tennis in general. I still had some up-and-down. Not always serving well, not always playing my best tennis, but in general it was a good match. I’m happy to get through in two sets. I start to feel much better physically, so it’s positive.”


“I wasn’t in the greatest shape,” Kyrgios said of the victory. “I was really surprised with the performance I gave out there today, to come out there and beat a quality player and in tough conditions. It’s probably my favourite win over the last couple of weeks.”


“I think we have talked a lot, obviously, since the incident, “ Kyrgios said in regard to Wawrinka. “I think we have both moved on from it.

“We played on the same team in IPTL. That was actually really good. I got to know him a little bit more. He played great there. He’s one of the best players in the world, no doubt. He’s playing great tennis.

“I’m not going to do anything different,” Kyrgios continued. “I’m just going to go out there and see what happens.”




Singles – Quarter-finals
[6] F. Lopez (ESP) d [1] N. Djokovic (SRB) 63 ret. (eye)
[2] S. Wawrinka (SUI) d [8] P. Kohlschreiber (GER) 75 61
N. Kyrgios (AUS) d [3] T. Berdych (CZE) 64 64
M. Baghdatis (CYP) d [4] R. Bautista Agut (ESP) 75 60

Doubles – Quarter-finals
S. Bolelli (ITA) / A. Seppi (ITA) d J. Murray (GBR) / T. Robredo (ESP) 64 63
L. Kubot (POL) / M. Matkowski (POL) d D. Nestor (CAN) / R. Stepanek (CZE) 36 63 10-5

CENTRE COURT start 2:30 pm
S. Bolelli (ITA) / A. Seppi (ITA) vs L. Kubot (POL) / M. Matkowski (POL)

Not Before 5:00 pm
N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs [2] S. Wawrinka (SUI)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[6] F. Lopez (ESP) vs M. Baghdatis (CYP)
After Suitable Rest – F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP) vs [Q] H. Chung (KOR) / J. Vesely (CZE)


Brasil Open


Singles – Second Round
D. Lajovic (SRB) d [1] [WC] B. Paire (FRA) 60 46 63
[LL] R. Carballes Baena (ESP) d [2] T. Bellucci (BRA) 26 64 63
[3] P. Cuevas (URU) d [Q] F. Bagnis (ARG) 63 75
[4] F. Delbonis (ARG) d D. Schwartzman (ARG) 36 64 62
[Q] G. Elias (POR) d S. Giraldo (COL) 64 63
[WC] T. Monteiro (BRA) d D. Munoz de la Nava (ESP) 46 63 62
I. Cervantes (ESP) d [Q] B. Rola (SLO) 76(4) 76(1)
P. Carreno Busta (ESP) d D. Gimeno-Traver (ESP) 62 36 63

Doubles – Quarter-finals
J. Peralta (CHI) / H. Zeballos (ARG) d [WC] R. Dutra Silva (BRA) / J. Souza (BRA) 64 63

Doubles – First Round

[1] M. Melo (BRA) / B. Soares (BRA) d [WC] N. Almagro (ESP) / E. Russi Assumpcao (BRA) 61 63
[3] M. Gonzalez (ARG) / A. Sa (BRA) d M. Cecchinato (ITA) / P. Lorenzi (ITA) 76(4) 61
P. Carreno Busta (ESP) / D. Marrero (ESP) d T. Daniel (JPN) / D. Gimeno-Traver (ESP) 64 64
A. Martin (SVK) / H. Podlipnik-Castillo (CHI) d [Alt] P. Bernardi (BRA) / G. Clezar (BRA) 63 36 10-2

CENTRE COURT start 12:30pm
[P. Carreno Busta (ESP) vs [LL] R. Carballes Baena (ESP)
Not Before 3:00 pm
I. Cervantes (ESP) vs [4] F. Delbonis (ARG)
Not Before 5:00 pm
D. Lajovic (SRB) vs [Q] G. Elias (POR)
Not Before 6:30 pm
[1] M. Melo (BRA) / B. Soares (BRA) vs G. Duran (ARG) / A. Molteni (ARG)
[3] P. Cuevas (URU) vs [WC] T. Monteiro (BRA)

COURT 1 start
After Suitable Rest – P. Carreno Busta (ESP) / D. Marrero (ESP) vs [3] M. Gonzalez (ARG) / A. Sa (BRA)
After Suitable Rest – F. Delbonis (ARG) / D. Schwartzman (ARG) vs A. Martin (SVK) / H. Podlipnik-Castillo (CHI)




Singles – Quarter-finals
[4] D. Thiem (AUT) d [7] G. Dimitrov (BUL) 75 62
[5] B. Tomic (AUS) d I. Marchenko (UKR) 75 75
A. Dolgopolov (UKR) d R. Haase (NED) 63 63
S. Querrey (USA) d [Q] T. Fritz (USA) 26 64 64

Doubles – Quarter-finals
[1] J. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) d A. Bedene (GBR) / G. Muller (LUX) 16 61 10-4
[3] P. Petzschner (GER) / A. Peya (AUT) d [WC] J. Erlich (ISR) / C. Fleming (GBR) 64 62
[4] T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) d M. Fyrstenberg (POL) / S. Gonzalez (MEX) 75 62
O. Marach (AUT) / F. Martin (FRA) d E. Butorac (USA) / S. Lipsky (USA) 46 64 12-10

CANCHA CENTRAL start 4:00 pm
WTA – D. Cibulkova (SVK) vs C. Mchale (USA)
Not Before 6:00 pm
ATP – A. Dolgopolov (UKR) vs [5] B. Tomic (AUS)
Not Before 8:00 pm
WTA – [8] Y. Wickmayer (BEL) vs [2] S. Stephens (USA)
Not Before 10:00 pm
ATP – [4] D. Thiem (AUT) vs S. Querrey (USA)

GRANDSTAND start 6:00 pm
WTA – [1] A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) vs M. Irigoyen (ARG) / P. Kania (POL)
ATP – [3] P. Petzschner (GER) / A. Peya (AUT) vs O. Marach (AUT) / F. Martin (FRA)
ATP – [1] J. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) vs [4] T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR)



Novak Djokovic Joins 700-Win Club with Victory in Dubai

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(February 24, 2016) DUBAI, UAE – No. 1 Novak Djokovic joined the 700-win club on Wednesday by defeating Malek Jaziri 6-1, 6-2 in 65 minutes to reach the quarterfinals the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The 28-year-old four-time Dubai champion is only the 12th player in the Open Era to reach the 700-win milestone. He is one of only three active players with this record, joining Roger Federer with 1,067 victories, and Rafael Nadal with 775.

“The first set and a half I enjoyed it, and then I started missing a lot of forehands, easy forehands from midcourt,” said Djokovic. “It frustrated me, honestly, a little bit.

“But I managed to win the match. I will take the positives out of tonight’s match and hopefully I will be able to raise my game even more.”

Djokovic will take on sixth seed Feliciano Lopez in the round of 8 and hopes to extend his perfect record against the Spaniard.

“We have had many quarterfinals playing each other, quite a few quarterfinals,” said the 10-time major champion. “The only time I played him in this tournament was actually a quarterfinal three, four years ago.

“I know he likes playing here and likes the conditions. He slices, and the ball travels through the air quickly and you’ve got to be very reactive, very quick with the baseline shots, especially when you play somebody like Feliciano who comes in very often.

“I’m sure he’s going to try to use every opportunity given to chip and charge, come to the net, serve and volley, going to try to not let me give the same look on the ball. I know that. I know what to expect.

“I’m going to try to prepare for this match well, and, as I said, you know, raise the game a little bit more than tonight.”

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

Second seed Stan Wawrinka advance to the quarterfinals with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Croatian qualifier Franko Skugor.

Wawrinka was two points away from departing the tournament on Tuesday against Sergiy Stakhovsky, so he was a little happier about his play on Wednesday.

“(Played) a little bit better, I think,” Wawrinka said. “I was feeling a little bit better the balls. I adapt a few things with my racquet, also with the tension.

“I think it wasn’t amazing but it’s a good win. Happy to get through to playing in the quarter tomorrow, winning in two sets tonight. There’s a lot to improve, but in general I’m happy to win.”

Warwrinka will next face eighth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber.

223 Berdych in press 2 DDT

Two-time Dubai finalist, third seed Tomas Berdych dismissed Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano 6-2, 6-2. Berdych will play Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios defeated the Czech en route to winning the Marseille tournament last week, his first ATP title.

“He’s part of really like fireworks on the court,” Berdych said of Kyrgios. “I mean in a good way. He’s playing really aggressive. He’s going for a lot of shots that they are not really, you know, with, I would say, on the safe side, you know.

“So he’s risking a lot. If couple of those shots are going in and he makes those extra points, then it can really make a difference.

“But overall he’s been serving incredibly well, and I think he’s been much more solid on the return side, as well.

“Of course, I mean, the conditions of playing indoors, the court, which is quite small, you know, feels like with all the side boards and everything, so, you know, that’s how it is.

“So here it’s again all kinds of different, you know, fast court, fast balls, playing outside. The court is very big. So let’s see.”


Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

ATP World Tour 500  

Dubai, U.A.E. (+4 hours GMT)
22-27 February 2016   Surface: Hard


Singles – Second Round
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) d [WC] M. Jaziri (TUN) 61 62
[2] S. Wawrinka (SUI) d [Q] F. Skugor (CRO) 75 61
[3] T. Berdych (CZE) d [Q] T. Fabbiano (ITA) 62 62
[4] R. Bautista Agut (ESP) d H. Chung (KOR) 60 61
[6] F. Lopez (ESP) d L. Rosol (CZE) 63 76(7)
[8] P. Kohlschreiber (GER) d B. Coric (CRO) 62 76(5)
M. Baghdatis (CYP) d V. Pospisil (CAN) 64 62
N. Kyrgios (AUS) d M. Kukushkin (KAZ) 63 62

Doubles – Quarter-finals
F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP) d [1] J. Rojer (NED) / H. Tecau (ROU) 64 64
[Q] H. Chung (KOR) / J. Vesely (CZE) d R. Bautista Agut (ESP) / J. Sousa (POR) 67(2) 76(6) 11-9

Doubles – First Round
D. Nestor (CAN) / R. Stepanek (CZE) d [2] R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU) 36 76(6) 10-4
J. Murray (GBR) / T. Robredo (ESP) d [4] H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS) 26 64 10-8
L. Kubot (POL) / M. Matkowski (POL) d I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Draganja (CRO) 46 64 10-7


CENTRE COURT start 3:00 pm
N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs [3] T. Berdych (CZE)
[4] R. Bautista Agut (ESP) vs M. Baghdatis (CYP)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[8] P. Kohlschreiber (GER) vs [2] S. Wawrinka (SUI)
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [6] F. Lopez (ESP)

COURT 1 start 4:00 pm
S. Bolelli (ITA) / A. Seppi (ITA) vs J. Murray (GBR) / T. Robredo (ESP)
L. Kubot (POL) / M. Matkowski (POL) vs D. Nestor (CAN) / R. Stepanek (CZE)



Singles – First Round
A. Dolgopolov (UKR) d [1] D. Ferrer (ESP) 64 64
S. Querrey (USA) d [2] K. Nishikori (JPN) 64 63
[4] D. Thiem (AUT) d D. Tursunov (RUS) 67(5) 63 64
[5] B. Tomic (AUS) d A. Mannarino (FRA) 64 64
[7] G. Dimitrov (BUL) d D. Young (USA) 63 64
R. Haase (NED) d A. Bedene (GBR) 64 67(3) 64
I. Marchenko (UKR) d [Q] R. Harrison (USA) 76(3) 46 76(5)
[Q] T. Fritz (USA) d V. Estrella Burgos (DOM) 61 63

Doubles – First Round
[1] J. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) d T. de Bakker (NED) / R. Haase (NED) 64 76(5)
E. Butorac (USA) / S. Lipsky (USA) d [2] R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) 76(8) 60
[WC] J. Erlich (ISR) / C. Fleming (GBR) d M. Pavic (CRO) / M. Venus (NZL) 46 76(5) 11-9
O. Marach (AUT) / F. Martin (FRA) d J. Chardy (FRA) / L. Paes (IND) 62 64


CANCHA CENTRAL start 4:00 pm
ATP – I. Marchenko (UKR) vs [5] B. Tomic (AUS)
ATP – A. Dolgopolov (UKR) vs R. Haase (NED)
Not Before 8:00 pm
ATP – [7] G. Dimitrov (BUL) vs [4] D. Thiem (AUT)
Not Before 10:00 pm
ATP – [Q] T. Fritz (USA) vs S. Querrey (USA)

GRANDSTAND start 4:00 pm
WTA – D. Cibulkova (SVK) vs [6] J. Larsson (SWE)
WTA – [8] Y. Wickmayer (BEL) or M. Puig (PUR) vs [3] A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
WTA – [WC] N. Osaka (JPN) vs [2] S. Stephens (USA)
ATP – [4] T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) vs M. Fyrstenberg (POL) / S. Gonzalez (MEX)

CANCHA 4 start 5:00 pm
WTA – M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) vs C. Mchale (USA)
WTA – [3] L. Arruabarrena (ESP) / P. Goncalves (BRA) vs M. Irigoyen (ARG) / P. Kania (POL)
WTA-After Suitable Rest – [WC] A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) / Y. Wickmayer (BEL) vs [2] K. Bertens (NED) / J. Larsson (SWE)

CANCHA 3 start 5:00 pm
ATP – [WC] J. Erlich (ISR) / C. Fleming (GBR) vs [3] P. Petzschner (GER) / A. Peya (AUT)
ATP – O. Marach (AUT) / F. Martin (FRA) vs E. Butorac (USA) / S. Lipsky (USA)
ATP – [1] J. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) vs A. Bedene (GBR) / G. Muller (LUX)

CANCHA 2 start 6:00 pm
WTA – [1] A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) vs T. Maria (GER) / M. Sanchez (USA)
WTA-After Suitable Rest – X. Han (CHN) / C. Mchale (USA) vs [PR] A. Rodionova (AUS) / G. Voskoboeva (KAZ)

Brasil Open


No matches completed due to rain.


CENTRE COURT start 12:00 noon
[1] M. Melo (BRA) / B. Soares (BRA) vs [WC] N. Almagro (ESP) / E. Russi Assumpcao (BRA)
[Q] B. Rola (SLO) vs I. Cervantes (ESP) 67(4) 12
[LL] R. Carballes Baena (ESP) vs [2] T. Bellucci (BRA)
[1] [WC] B. Paire (FRA) vs D. Lajovic (SRB)
Not Before 6:30 pm
D. Munoz de la Nava (ESP) vs [WC] T. Monteiro (BRA)
[WC] R. Dutra Silva (BRA) / J. Souza (BRA) vs J. Peralta (CHI) / H. Zeballos (ARG)

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
P. Carreno Busta (ESP) vs D. Gimeno-Traver (ESP) 62 36 10
D. Schwartzman (ARG) vs [4] F. Delbonis (ARG)
S. Giraldo (COL) vs [Q] G. Elias (POR)
[3] P. Cuevas (URU) vs [Q] F. Bagnis (ARG)

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
M. Cecchinato (ITA) / P. Lorenzi (ITA) vs [3] M. Gonzalez (ARG) / A. Sa (BRA)
A. Martin (SVK) / H. Podlipnik-Castillo (CHI) vs [Alt] P. Bernardi (BRA) / G. Clezar (BRA)
P. Carreno Busta (ESP) / D. Marrero (ESP) vs T. Daniel (JPN) / D. Gimeno-Traver (ESP)

Tournament Information