February 19, 2015 -- Dubai, UAE Defending champion Roger Federer launched the Chinese New Year celebrations at Burj Al Arab tonight, ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships ATP tournament which commences on Monday.
Organized by the tournament and Burj Al Arab, Federer was a special guest of the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Chang Hua; the China Consul General, Mr Tang Weibin; Gerald Lawless, President and Group CEO Jumeriah Group; and Mr Anthony McHale, General Manager of Burj Al Arab. Also in attendance was Salah Tahlak, Tournament Director.
Six time Dubai champion Federer was invited to participate in the ceremony for the colouring of the eyes of the lion. The lion dance is a traditional cultural dance performed at significant ceremonies and Chinese New Year celebrations. Colouring of the eyes is an important part of the ceremony, and the responsibility is reserved for someone of high social status, as it is believed to give the lion its spirit, and brings it to life. This ceremony must be undertaken prior to the lion dance commencing.
Federer was delighted to be part of the ceremony, saying “It’s been a fantastic evening, I’m honoured to have been part of this celebration. The Burj Al Arab is iconic, and this celebration is a nice gesture for the Chinese guests. I’ve had some amazing moments playing here in Dubai, especially playing here on the helipad, and playing in China too, so the chance to celebrate this, I wasn’t going to miss it.”
About the upcoming tournament, Roger said “I feel ok coming into this year, I know the court well, I know what to expect. I had two weeks off after the Australian Open so I feel refreshed and ready to play. I really like the stadium, I’ve played very well here over the years, and the Dubai tournament is run so well, it’s a great event and a great atmosphere.”
Gerald Lawless said “We are delighted that Dubai Duty Free could bring Roger here for the celebration of Chinese New Year. Roger is a great friend of Dubai Duty Free, and of Jumeirah, so this is the icing on the cake to have him here. Our fastest growing visitor group is the Chinese so it’s great to do this.
“Roger Federer being part of this occasion is very special, and we are happy to have been involved in this event. Roger is a wonderful champion, having won the title six times here. Next week’s tournament is shaping up to be one of the best ever” said Tournament Director, Salah Tahlak.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships WTA event continues until 21st February. The ATP tournament commences on 23rd February with the finals on 28th February. Along with Federer, the tournament will star world number one and Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, Australian Open runner-up Andy Murray and two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Tickets for the event are available from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud which opens from 9am to 9pm daily. Tickets are still available for every day of the women’s week, and start at just 75dhs for the first three days of play, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Tickets are also still available for the first three days of the men’s week. Grandstand tickets can also be bought online at http://www.timeouttickets.com/. For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.