Twentieth Anniversary Marked By Federer, Djokovic In Iconic Shoot
by Press Release|
On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, history repeated itself as tennis ace Roger Federer enjoyed the view from the helipad at the Burj Al Arab once again. Federer was famously filmed there in 2005 when he joined Andre Agassi to play tennis, resulting in iconic images that were relayed around the world and indelibly linked Dubai, Burj Al Arab and tennis in the minds of the many millions who saw it.
This time Roger, who has won the Dubai tournament a record four times, was joined by Dubai’s defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic. The two top players are participating in the US$4 million Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships which features back-to-back WTA and ATP World Tour tournaments. The women’s final was won in resounding style last night by Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska while the ATP event features a remarkable 8 of the top 10 ATP players.
Once they ascended the world’s most luxurious hotel to take in the view of the Dubai skyline, the two players were delighted to see that an entire TV set had been positioned on the helipad, complete with a giant 20 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of outstanding tennis in Dubai.
Joining the two tops seeds for the TV interview was Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organisers, Gerald Lawless, Executive Chairman of the Jumeirah Group and Salah Tahlak, Tournament Director. In an outside interview broadcast with the Dubai skyline as the stunning backdrop, the group reflected on the growth of the tournament, and of Dubai over the past twenty years.
Federer was full of praise for the tournament, which has grown to become one of the most popular and prestigious on the world tennis circuit. "The tournament has won awards thanks to the people sitting here with us, and they deserve it. The organisation is really well done and every time we come back I think there’s more of a buzz in the city. The top players in particular love coming here and they always have a great time," he said.
Colm McLoughlin is justifiably proud of how the tournament has grown, from just a bold plan in 1992 to bring an event to Dubai in 1993, to the high profile success it is today. "I am especially proud of the Dubai Duty Free team who pull it all together so well each year," he said. "The tournament has become a flagship event for the promotion of Dubai around the world, and to be celebrating it here on the helipad of Burj Al Arab in such style is very exciting," he added.
Gerald Lawless shared his memories from the iconic shoot in 2005, which captured the imagination of the media around the world: "The Federer-Agassi match on the helipad of Burj Al Arab in 2005 became such an iconic image of Dubai – imaginative, daring, dynamic. Having tennis stars such as Djokovic and Federer there this time is a reminder of what Dubai has achieved, of the partnership between leading Dubai-based global brands like Dubai Duty Free and Jumeirah Group, and of the pursuit of excellence in all fields."
Speaking about the growth of the Dubai tournament over the past 20 years, Tournament Director, Salah Tahlak said he was very proud of its success saying: "Duty Free has worked hard to use sport as a medium to put Dubai on the world map, and the event is watched on TV by millions of people which gives Dubai great exposure. As we are now marking our 20th anniversary I am happy to be here with our two top players on top of the most famous hotel in the world. Everywhere I go in the world people talk about Dubai and Burj Al Arab so we are very happy to have Burj Al Arab marking this historic occasion with us."
Djokovic and Federer set aside their rivalry for a moment to enjoy the view and couldn’t resist the chance to hit a few balls while on the helipad. They may be rivals but they are also very respectful of each other, Federer saying, "Novak was the best of the bunch in Dubai last year and it was great to see; I can only tip my hat to him and I expect him to be really tough as the year goes on." That respect is mutual. "Roger has been such an iconic player, he was revolutionary in some ways, he’s changed the game and because of him this game is what it is at this moment," said Novak.
Come Monday though, the rivalry will be back as they take to the courts to achieve their own piece of history, with Federer aiming to take a record fifth singles title, while Djokovic will be chasing his fourth consecutive title, the first time ever in the history of the event.
As the group left Burj Al Arab they were delighted to see the iconic sail light up with a laser show featuring the tournament logo, the first time ever the hotel has celebrated a sporting event in such a spectacular way.
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