Dubai tennis: British icon Andy Murray to face Denis Shapovalov in first round

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Britain's Andy Murray in action at the Australian Open in January. — Reuters
Britain's Andy Murray in action at the Australian Open in January. — Reuters

Published: Sat 24 Feb 2024, 4:44 PM

Last updated: Sat 24 Feb 2024, 4:46 PM

As attention turns to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships’ ATP 500 tournament from Sunday, the Official Draw for the emirate’s 32nd men’s event served up a host of intriguing matches as three of the world’s Top 10 players lead the chase for glory at Dubai Tennis Stadium.

By Team KT

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The 32-player field for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships ATP event also includes three former winners in last year’s champion Daniil Medvedev – the 2021 US Open winner – 2022 winner Andrey Rublev, and three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray, who registered a sole Dubai triumph in 2017.

Meanwhile, 12 years after losing to Roger Federer in the Dubai final, and seven years after defeating Spain’s Fernando Verdasco to lift the tournament’s iconic silver dhow trophy, Andy Murray is back in Dubai. The Scotsman, currently ranked No50 in the world, faces a first-round tie with Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, the World No121.

World No4 and top-seed Medvedev was drawn against Kazakhstan’s Alexander Shevchenko, who attended the draw.

“Can we redo the draw?” joked the World No45. “Obviously it’s difficult to play him here in Dubai, where he won last year. Hopefully, he will play below his average when we meet – let’s hope. It’s always great to be back in Dubai, a tournament with a big history. It’s a pleasure to play here.”

The Official Draw event was also attended by Jiri Lehecka, winner of the ATP 250 Adelaide International last month. The Czech will play a qualifier in the opening round.

Other highlight matches in the Round of 32 see 18-year-old Czech Jakub Mensik, who contests a maiden ATP Tour final in Doha today, square-off against World No31 Borna Coric. Mensik’s opponent in the Qatar final, Karen Khachanov, is the World No17 and fourth seed in Dubai. He must navigate a tricky tie with Australia’s Alexei Popyrin, who will be chasing revenge after losing to Khachanov in the Doha semis.

With World No8 and third seed Hubert Hurkacz facing German World No25 Jan-Lennard Struff, there is also an eye-catching all-French affair between Ugo Humbert, the World No18 and No5 seed in Dubai, and 37-year-old wildcard recipient, Gael Monfils.

The tournament’s second seed, World No5 Rublev, a beaten finalist here last year, will start his quest for a second Dubai crown against China’s Zhang Zhizhen, the World No47.

“This year marks the 32nd anniversary of our ATP tournament in Dubai, and I am delighted that the Tour has been with us on this exciting journey for so many years,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “We welcomed more than 40,000 spectators to the WTA 1000 tournament last week, and we are confident that number will be surpassed as we welcome the ATP back to Dubai.”

Announcing the event’s three wild card players – Sumit Nagal, the No1-ranked player in India and World No101; 20-year-old Jordanian, Abdullah Shelbayh; and Monfils – Salah Talak, Joint-COO of Dubai Duty Free and Tournament Director of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, added: “I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Abdullah play in Dubai for the first time. He’s playing really well and he is an inspirational example that can help progress tennis across the Arab World.”

The Official Draw was led by ATP Supervisor Ahmed Abdel-Azim, who has been involved with the tournament for 25 years. He was joined by McLoughlin, Talak, and Nasser Yousef Al-Marzouqi, Secretary General of the UAE Tennis Federation.

The 32nd edition of the annual ATP event takes place from February 26 to March 2.


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