Novak Djokovic, whose controversial stance over COVID-19 jabs has resulted in being banned from major tournaments, will be busy during the traditional tennis off season.
The Serbian 35-year-old, who no longer needs to face recently retired 41-year-old Swiss maestro Roger Federer, has signed up for December’s inaugural World Tennis League that will take place at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai.
This new exhibition event in Dubai, which is already a tax-free home to a plethora of top tennis aces, will be played in a round robin format with 16 players split into four teams.
The organisers have already referred to this new spectacle as “the Greatest Show on Court”. With the glitz and glamour associated with Dubai, it is no surprise that evening ticket holders can extend their stay with a thrilling concert from top music artists.
Dutch DJ superstar Tiësto will play at the opening evening on 19 December, with his compatriot Armin Van Buuren closing the event with a set on Christmas Eve after the top two teams face-off in the final day of matches.
The exhibition format has attracted several Grand Slam champions for the two-set battles across both singles and mixed doubles. A 10-point tie-breaker set, if required, will add to the excitement.
Alexander Zverev, the Monaco-based Russian who scooped the Olympic gold medal at singles is among the big names from the ATP Tour.
Australian Nick Kyrgios, who this year won the Australian Open and finished runner-up to Djokovic, joins 2020 US Open champion Austrian Dominic Thiem, Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, French veteran Gael Monfils and India’s 42-year-old doubles expert Rohan Bopanna – whose last grand success was the 2017 French mixed doubles crown.
Indian veteran Sania Mirza, who bagged six grand slam titles (three at doubles and a trio at mixed doubles) during an illustrious career, is the ultimate doubles expert from the eight WTA Tour players to sign up for the Dubai exhibition event.
Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, is arguably the most prolific at doubles among the other set of ladies. She lifted the doubles crown at the 2019 US Open and 2021 Australian Open.
On the singles scene there are the exciting talents of grand slam winners in the shape of Bianca Andreescu, Simona Halep, Elena Rybakina and Iga Swiatek.
Andreescu became the first Canadian to land a grand slam singles title when she won the 2019 US Open as an 18-year-old. This was despite starting the season without competing on the pro circuit in 14 months.
Halep is a two-time major winner, victorious at the 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon. The Romanian remains in the world’s top 10, but she was ranked no.1 between 2017 and 2019.
Reigning Wimbledon winner Rybakina became the first Kazakhstani player to land a major title following her astonishing run at the All England Club.
World no.1 Swiatek, who became the first Pole to claim a major singles title at the 2020 French Open, has this year added the French Open and US Open crowns. She is one of the most popular on the circuit among both fellow players and tennis fans.
Rising star Paula Badosa, who won’t have to travel far to compete as the Spaniard resides in Dubai, and Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit complete the line-up from the WTA Tour.
It will be difficult to not back current Wimbledon winner Djokovic through some of the biggest names in online sports betting, like BetMGM, especially because on top of his 21 Grand Slam titles he has enjoyed immense success on the courts in Dubai.
He enthused in a press release from the World Tennis League: “Tennis connects people and when it’s combined with a great show and music then it’s even better. I’m excited to join, and together with other top players we’ll introduce tennis as fun to new audiences.