During the ATP 500 draw at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on February 25, 2023.


Dubai: Grand slam champions to face off in men’s tennis

Grand Slam champions, including Novak Djokovic, and future stars will face off in Dubai after the ATP 500 draw at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday (February 25).

The ATP 500 field is headed by World No. 1 and recent Australian Open winner Djokovic and features four of the world’s Top-10, including multiple Grand Slam winners with a collective 26 big four titles between, as well as the next generation of tennis icons.

Saturday’s official draw saw 16 matches confirmed for the opening Round of 32 (R32). With players contesting a maximum of four matches before the final on March 4, a host of mouth-watering pipeline clashes came to light as the ties unfolded.

At opposing ends of the draw, Djokovic will start his quest for a sixth Dubai title against a qualifier or lucky loser, while defending champion and second seed Andrey Rublev will face Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic, the World No. 67 in R32.

Fifth seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland will face 2017 Dubai winner Andy Murray in the opening round, with Djokovic a potential quarterfinal opponent should either of the two progress from their Round of 16 tie.

With all five qualifiers sitting on Djokovic’s half of the draw, third seed Daniil Medvedev, who could meet Djokovic in the semi-finals, will also face a qualifier in R32.

Elsewhere in the opening round clashes, Germany’s Alexander Zverev, the World No.16 and seventh seed in Dubai, will play World No.52 Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic, while Canadian fourth seed and World No.9 Felix Auger-Aliassime – who could face Zverev in the quarterfinals – opens against French-born American Maxime Cressy, the World No.37. In the same half of the draw, sixth seed Karen Khachanov, who could face Rublev in the quarters, starts his Dubai run against Botic Van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands.

British No.1 Daniel Evans, who lives in Dubai, will play Croatian eighth seed and world No.20 Borna Coric in the first round.

Salah Tahlak, Joint COO of Dubai Duty Free, and Tournament Director of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, named the final three players to receive wildcards into the main draw. The first was Australia’s Thannasi Kokkinakis, who memorably partnered Nick Kyrgios to Doubles glory at the 2022 Australian Open.
Kokkinakis will face a qualifier in R32. Veteran Malik Jaziri was the second wildcard, with Tahlak confirming the Tunisian – who will play Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in R32 – is set to retire after the Dubai tournament.

The final wildcard went to Alexei Popyrin, a 23-year-old Australian national and Dubai resident who starts his maiden Dubai appearance against a qualifier in R32, before Murray or Hurkacz lie in wait in the Round of 16.  ICA/Expat Media

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