The ATP 500 Dubai Tennis Championships, set to take place from February 27th to March 4th, 2024, has suffered a double blow with the withdrawals of tennis titans Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Nadal, a former champion at the tournament and the current world No. 2, has been sidelined with a persistent hip injury that forced him to miss the Australian Open earlier this year. While he was initially expected to return in Dubai, his recovery has taken longer than anticipated.
“I’m still feeling some discomfort in my hip, and after consulting with my doctors, we’ve decided it’s best for me to withdraw from Dubai,” Nadal said in a statement. “It’s a tough decision, as I love playing in Dubai and have had great success there. But I need to prioritize my long-term health and be ready for the important clay-court season ahead.”
Djokovic, the reigning champion in Dubai and the world No. 1, faces a different hurdle. The unvaccinated Serbian star is unable to enter the United Arab Emirates due to their current COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
“I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to defend my title in Dubai,” Djokovic expressed. “I’ve been training hard and was looking forward to competing there. However, I respect the UAE’s entry rules and understand that I cannot enter the country at this time.”
The absences of Nadal and Djokovic undoubtedly shake up the Dubai field. However, the tournament still boasts a strong lineup, including:
- Daniil Medvedev, the world No. 3 and reigning US Open champion
- Andrey Rublev, the world No. 6 and a recent finalist in Doha
- Alexander Zverev, the world No. 7 and a three-time ATP Finals champion
- Stefanos Tsitsipas, the world No. 4 and a two-time Grand Slam finalist
With the two biggest draws out, the door is now open for other players to step up and claim the Dubai title. This could be an exciting opportunity for rising stars or players seeking a statement win.
Tennis fans will have to wait a little longer to see Nadal and Djokovic back in action. Nadal is expected to return at the Indian Wells Masters in March, while Djokovic’s next tournament appearance remains uncertain due to ongoing travel restrictions.
Despite the high-profile absences, the Dubai Tennis Championships promises to be a thrilling event with plenty of talented players vying for the coveted trophy. The tournament is sure to deliver exciting matches, captivating storylines, and a glimpse into the future of professional tennis.