The reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion and world number two joins a stellar field that includes eight-time champion Roger Federer, who in winning last year claimed his 100th career singles title. Also bidding for the title will be 2019 finalist and ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas and 2018 Dubai winner Roberto Bautista Agut.
Djokovic, who has already begun this season by playing an integral role in leading Serbia to victory in the inaugural ATP Cup, is second only to Federer in amassing a host of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship titles. He collected his first trophy in 2009 with victory over David Ferrer and successfully defended his title with a three-set victory over Mikhail Youzhny in a battle that was interrupted by torrential rain and had to be completed over two days, before making it three in a row with a straight-sets triumph over Federer in 2011.
After Federer defeated Andy Murray in the 2012 final, Djokovic returned to the winner’s rostrum in 2013 by overcoming Tomas Berdych. He contested his fifth Dubai final in 2015 but was defeated by Federer, and in his most recent appearance in Dubai, in 2016, he was forced to retire after losing the first set of his quarter-final match against Feliciano Lopez due to an eye infection.
Federer, at 38, is still as competitive as ever and will not easily surrender his crown as, with 103 titles, he edges ever closer to surpassing the all-time record of 109 titles held by Jimmy Connors. Tsitsipas is also certain to be a top contender, with 2019 victories over both Federer and Djokovic as well as current world number one Rafael Nadal on the Spaniard’s favourite surface of clay.
Other exciting players to catch include Gael Monfils, Italian Fabio Fognini, and veteran Jo Wilfried Tsonga, who is competing here for the first time in six years and has collected 18 career titles including two from 2019, and British number one Dan Evans who recently helped Britain to the Davis Cup semi-finals and the quarter-finals of the ATP Cup.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free begins with the WTA event which runs from 17th to 22nd February and features reigning Grand Slam champions Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu, and then continues between 24th and 29th February with the ATP tournament.