Djokovic, Wawrinka keen on winning Dubai Open 2016

February 22, 2016 11:09 am 

DUBAI, Feb. 22 — World's No. 1 Novak Djokovic and his rival No. 4 Stanislaw "Stan" Wawrinka said here Sunday they both feel prepared and highly motivated to win the 24th edition of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships which kicked off earlier today with the qualifier matches.

The two tennis aces briefed the media at the Jumeirah Creek Hotel near the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, saying they still can achieve more in their career.

"It is a fantastic atmosphere and I always like to play in Dubai as it marks a good opportunity to get back on track after the Grand Slam in Australia," said the "Djoker", as his fans call the Belgrade-born tennis ace. The Serb won the last Grand Slam in Melbourne end of January, his sixth Grand Slam title in "down under" (an all time-record).

Swiss elite player Wawrinka agreed, saying that the atmosphere in Dubai is unique, "and I understand that so many of my colleagues do also their winter training here, because of the warm weather and the good conditions."

Outdoor temperatures were 24 degrees Celsius in Dubai these days, with clouds rarely showing up, not to talk about rain.

On his rivalry with the Serb tennis pro, Wawrinka said, "we had some touch Grand Slam matches. I think when I play my best tennis I can bring the victory home." In June 2015, Wawrinka defeated Djokovic in four sets at the French Open' s final which the Swiss described then as "the match of my life".

To the disappointment of many tennis fans in the Gulf emirate, last year's Dubai champion Roger Federer, the Swiss tennis ace and currently No. 3 in the ATP ranking, pulled out of the line-up for the championships in the Gulf emirate which he won seven times (current men's record). The 34-year old Swiss tennis star cited an injury which he suffered when he was lost in the semi-finals in australia in January.

Djokovic said that nevertheless he expects everything than an easy tournament. The line-up of top seeds is strong he said. Czech player Tomas Berdych, ranked number eight in the world, Roberto Bautista Augut (18) and Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber (34) are also participating at this year's ATP Open in Dubai where a total prize money of 2.673 million dollars.

"I am now 28 and at the peak of my tennis career. But I am still highly motivated to reach more," said 1.88 meter tall Djokovic who is coached by former Slovak elite player Marion Vajda and German tennis legend Boris Becker.

The Serb will play in the first round against Spain's Tommy Robredo, ranked 39 in the world, while "Stan the Man" will encounter the 1.93-meter tall Sergiy Stakhovski from Ukraine, ranked 66th.

Asked if he can imagine to live as a permanent resident in Dubai like his countryman Federer, Wawrinka, aged 30, answered, "since I am approaching the end of my career, I would not consider moving to Dubai but as I said the conditions are great here and I understand if young players move here."

Beside "King Roger", French player Kristina Mladenovic, ranked 30th in the WTA list, relocated to Dubai with her family this winter.

Djokovic, winner of 11 Grand Slam titles and considered to be one of the greatest players of all time, said his advice to young players to accept that the road to the top is long. "If you take my career, my first Grand Slam title victory was in 2008 at the Grand Slam in australia. I was 20 at that time. Hence my way to the top was long, there were victories and challenges."

The resident of Monte Carlo added, "I had to learn and to improve, but I never gave up on my objective to become the world' s number one." Being a father changed his life, he said, "It is more work in private, and it gives us as a family a lot of happiness and balance." His son Stefan he has with Serbian wife Jelena is one and a half years old.

The final of this year's Dubai Open will take place on Feb. 27 on the center court of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis stadium at the sheikhdom's Aviation Club. (PNA/Xinhua)

JBP/SSC

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