Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium resurfaced and ready to welcome the world

With just two days to go, everything is now complete and in place for two-week Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

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The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium. — Supplied photo
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium. — Supplied photo

Published: Fri 17 Feb 2023, 3:41 PM

Glossy, grinning cut-outs of World No.1 Iga Swiatek and Novak Djokovic greet visitors to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, electrical testing is undertaken on the scoreboards above the stands on Centre Court, and the Dubai Duty Free pop-up merchandise stores are fully stocked with branded tee-shirts, keyrings, and tennis balls.

It can mean only one thing: The highly anticipated Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is just around the corner.

With only two days to go until the start of the emirate’s annual two-week tennis extravaganza, and qualifying having got underway on four side courts on Friday morning, the area surrounding the 5,000-capacity stadium is a hive of activity. The women’s WTA 1000 event, which runs from February 19 to 25, will be followed immediately by the men’s ATP 500 tournament from February 27 to March 4. In preparation, staff on Thursday were busily wiping down the venue’s black-and-gold gates in anticipation of welcoming 80,000-plus fans through them over the course of 14 days. Beds of red, yellow, and white chrysanthemums were watered nearby.

The women’s tournament is set to feature 17 of the world’s top 20 players, and Aryna Sabalenka, winner of her maiden Grand Slam at the Australian Open last month, is looking to gain every competitive advantage, practising on Centre Court with Leyla Fernandez, the Canadian ranked World No.39. The two exchanged strokes for close to an hour as their coaching teams watched on and maintenance staff fixed up banners for sponsors such as JP Morgan, EA7, Emirates and Roles. The flags of the 30+ participating nations will be hanged only on the eve of the first coin toss.

“The start of the tournament is fast approaching, which means these final days are some of our busiest,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organisers. “With the players starting to arrive and all the little finishing touches taking place, you can really feel the excitement now among our team. Preparations for this month started months ago and we have some new features that we are looking forward to our players, guests, colleagues, and spectators experiencing.”

Among the new additions are expanded, two-storey management offices, a plush new red carpet inside the Royal Box, an upgraded LED leaderboard and official rankings table outside The Majlis, and – most importantly of all – new surfaces on all 10 of the venue’s hardcourts.

Starting in January, the nine side courts were resurfaced using DecoTurf acrylic, of which Dubai Duty Free imported 9,000sqm from California. Centre Court was left until last with the five-day process being finalised on February 8 – just in time for three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray to train on it earlier this week ahead of his wildcard participation in the US$2.9m Championships. Traditionally, the venue has provided a medium-fast speed of play and organisers confirmed this has not changed.

As the only event wholly owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, the company has mobilised a 240-person team consisting mainly of in-house staff, with a further 80 security personnel contracted for the two weeks to ensure the safety of all players and visitors. The adjoining Jumeirah Creekside Hotel will be home to the elite field of men and women flying in from around the world, as well as a host of coaches, masseuses, physiotherapists, sports psychologists, WTA and ATP staff, and special guests.

Saturday’s Main Draw for the women’s tournament will outline the path to the final for the likes of Swiatek and Sabalenka, the World No.1 and No.2 respectively. Taking place at The Majlis and conducted in the presence of McLoughlin, Ramesh Cidambi, Chief Operating Officer at Dubai Duty Free and head of the Tournament Organising Committee, and Salah Tahlak, Joint COO and Tournament Director of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, the bracket will determine the schedule of play for Monday and Tuesday.

“We have five Grand Slam winners in the field of our women’s tournament this year,” said Cidambi. “With 64 players entering the Main Draw, including nine of the world’s top 10, there is the potential for some mouth-watering matches in the early rounds”

Tahlak added: “I would urge all tennis fans to secure their tickets before the draw and come down to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium early in the week to experience an award-winning world-class event that always lives up to its reputation. The preparations are almost done – soon it is time for the action.”

Grab Your Seats

Tickets for the 31st edition are on sale now at dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com, starting from Dh55.

Tickets are also available at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium Box Office between 9am and 9pm daily. This month’s Championships will start with the 23rd staging of the WTA event from February 19 to 25, before the 31st staging of the ATP Tour 500 tournament from February 26 to March 4. Both events carry equal prize money.

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

DDFTC IN NUMBERS

69,000 – Last year’s Covid-affected attendance

80,000 – This year’s expected attendance

240 – Dubai Duty Free staff involved in Championships

72,000 – Recyclable water bottles expected to be consumed during WTA week

292 – Hotel rooms reserved for players and staff at Jumeirah Creekside

8,895 – Number of square-metres of DecoTurf acrylic used to resurface 10 courts

271 – Media accreditation applications

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