Pretty much anybody who is anybody in tennis will be in Dubai over the next couple of weeks in one of the biggest of the non-Grand Slam tournaments. The $2 million Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is certainly a big deal.
Eight of the top ten ranked men will be in the city, which has already become a serious sporting destination, while seven of the top ten women will also be there.
Interestingly, the women play in week one, starting on Monday, and then the men are in action in week two.
The respective winners of the recent Australian Open are ready to follow their success down under with a good showing in the Middle East.
For the women, Justine Henin and Venus Williams have enjoyed themselves over the years, with four and two wins each respectively, but last year the crown went to Caroline Wozniacki.
The Dane was knocked off the number one spot just last month after her quest for a first Grand Slam win ended in failure in Melbourne. Now the number four in the world, she has her sights set on the winner of the Australian Open and the new number one, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
Wozniacki will have to do better than last week, when she was knocked out of the Qatar Open early by Lucie Safarova, despite having three match-points.
"I just want to get out of here. You don't want to stay when you lose a match like that," Wozniacki said, and added, “It's really disappointing but you have to move on.”
Azarenka returns to the Middle East in much better shape than she was a year ago when defeats in Doha and Dubai almost prompted her to quit the sport.
"My mum told me to come home and rest, and not be crazy about it,” she said. “And my gran pointed out there are things so much harder in life than tennis matches.”
“Last year I was in a bit of a mess. I couldn't control any of my emotions. I had to change my mentality. So now I don’t try to, you know, think ‘why is this happening to me?’ Instead I just try to accept and deal with it.”
Novak Djokovic has dominated men’s tennis in the past few years and Dubai has been no exception with the last three titles going the Serbian’s way.
Already, 2012 couldn’t have gone better. He won the Australian Open and last week was given his country’s highest honor, Order of the Karadjordje’s Star of the 1st degree by Serbian president Boris Tadic.
He’s going to take some stopping.