Arab star Malek Jaziri hails 'special' Dubai as he calls time on career

The 39-year-old went out with his head held high as the Monday crowd at Centre Court gave him a farewell

By Joy Chakravarty

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Malek Jaziri of Tunisia in action against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday. — Photo by M.Sajjad
Malek Jaziri of Tunisia in action against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday. — Photo by M.Sajjad

Published: Mon 27 Feb 2023, 8:50 PM

A proud career came to an end on Monday at the Dubai Duty Free Championships when Tunisian Malek Jaziri called time on competitive tennis after crashing out in the opening round.

The 39-year-old Jaziri lost 6-2, 6-0 inside an hour to Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, but he went out with his head held high as the Monday crowd at Centre Court gave him a farewell.

Jaziri, who reached the semifinals here in 2018, received a wildcard for this year’s championship and came to the week without much competitive outing under his belt over the last few months. It was his 10th appearance in the tournament.

“I don’t know what I am feeling. Relief or something. Something different, very strange,” said Jaziri, who is one of only five Arab players to have reached the top-50 of the ATP Ranking.

Jaziri, who reached a career-high No.42 in the rankings on 7 January, 2019, could not thank the city of Dubai and organisers Dubai Duty Free enough for letting him finish his career in the tournament.

“Dubai has been a very special place for me. I have a lot of good memories. That’s why I wanted to finish here. I would like to thank Dubai Duty Free and Salah Tahlak for the opportunity to play my last ATP competition here,” said Jaziri, who managed to take a set off the then world No.1 Roger Federer in their match in 2013.

“A lot of emotion. It’s like all my memories for the last maybe 12 years, just coming back in three seconds, all the match I played here, against the No.1s, against the top seeds.

"When you know that it going to be your last tournament, it’s very special. It’s not easy. But, at the same time, it is good to finish at this great tournament here. There have been a lot of Tunisian fans here, a lot from the Arab world. I am just happy that I finish here.”

Jaziri joked that he was getting ready to play his last match against world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

“I remember all the matches against Novak. The full house…it was amazing. The year I played Roger and took a set off, that was very special,” added Jaziri, who has started working as a coach with Canadian world No139 Vasek Pospisil.

“I am actually surprised I wasn’t playing the world No1. The only year I wanted to play Novak, it doesn’t happen!”

ALL ABOUT JAZIRI

> Age: 39

> Win-Loss Record: 104-144

> Top Tunisian in ATP Rankings history. Achieved career-high No. 42 on 7 January 2019 after posting personal-best 23 wins in 2018

> Equaled biggest win of career by beating No. 4 Cilic en route to 1st ATP Tour final at 2018 Istanbul.

> Defeated No.4 Dimitrov en route to 2018 semifinals in Dubai

GRAND SLAM RECORD

> Australian Open: Third round (2015, 2017)

> French Open: Second round (2012, 2016, 2018)

> Wimbledon: Second round (2012)

> US Open: Second round (2011, 2017)

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