Daniil Medvedev wrapped up a remarkable 31st Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with a dominant display over close friend and defending champion Andrey Rublev to claim a maiden title 6-2 6-2 on the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium’s storied Centre Court.
Just a week after Barbora Krejcikova produced a brilliant display to dispatch World No.1 Iga Swiatek to take victory in the WTA 1000 tournament, Medvedev delivered a scintillating final performance to bring the curtain down on a memorable two weeks of tennis in Dubai, which attracted 90,000 spectators to the storied stadium.
It is a fortnight that has witnessed both Indian tennis legend Sania Mirza and Arab trailblazer Malek Jaziri call time on their careers with emotional ceremonies on Centre Court; Alexander Zverev continue his injury comeback by making his first semi-final since June 2022, Krejcikova bag a first Dubai title, and Novak Djokovic marking a record 378 cumulative weeks as world No. 1.
And now Medvedev’s magic.
The 2021 US Open Champion came in hot to Dubai this week having won back-to-back ATP Tour titles in Rotterdam and Doha and had dropped just 25 games, without losing a set, en route to Saturday’s final, including a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of world No.1 Djokovic in Friday’s semifinal.
Armed with a 13-game winning streak, Medvedev was arguably slight favourite against defending champion Rublev, No.2 seed this week, who has improved as the tournament has developed. Rublev, seeking to become the first man since Roger Federer in 2015 to win back-to-back titles, had brushed off another long-term friend in Zverev in straight sets in the semi-finals, but could not find a way past Medvedev, who takes a 5-2 lead in their head-to-head battles.
Rublev saved one break point in the opening game but couldn’t save the second as a backhand into the net handed Medvedev an early lead. From that point on the World No.8 always seemed in control, with opponent Rublev cutting a frustrated figure. He broke serve again in game eight to take the opening set 6-2.
As Rublev appeared to let his frustration get the better of him, Medvedev continued to press with his deceptive speed, whipped groundstrokes, and serve return capabilities and he struck a decisive break in game five, then broke again in game seven. Rublev saved one match point at 40-0 in game eight, but Medvedev powered down another serve to seal a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 victory for his first Dubai title.
Medvedev’s fabulous February sees him become the third player in as many seasons to win three tournaments in successive weeks, joining Felix Auger-Aliassime (October 2022) and Casper Ruud (July 2021), and he was thankful to get his hands on the iconic Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships dhow trophy, awarded to the winner of this ATP 500 event.
The prize ceremony was conducted by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline & Group; His Highness Sheikh Hasher Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Tennis Federation; Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free; Salah Tahlak, Joint COO of Dubai Duty Free, and Tournament Director of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships; Sinead El Sibai, Senior Vice President Marketing of Dubai Duty Free; and Nasser Yousef, General Secretary of the UAE Tennis Federation.
“You always doubt what you do in practice, so I wasn’t really expecting what’s happened over the past three weeks, but I’m obviously very happy with how things have turned out, and looking forward to what’s next,” said a beaming Medvedev following his triumph.
“The match tonight was very tactical. Andrey can cause trouble to anyone on Tour and every time we play he tries to make me suffer and I try to make him suffer, so I’m glad it went my way this time. I’ve felt at home since I arrived in Dubai. Even in the first match this week, I played a qualifier and the support was 50-50; great energy from the crowd here all week so thank you.”
Runner-up Rublev received a great ovation from the spectators before collecting his trophy, and responded: “Thank you very much, I’ve never had support like that. I’m really grateful and thank you to all for coming and supporting all of us. Because of you, our sport is growing and becoming more famous. I’ve played well this week, had some great matches, but Daniil destroyed me tonight. Three titles in a row, I don’t know how he is doing it, but I have huge respect for him. He’s a real champion.”
Earlier on Centre Court, Maxime Cressy, from the USA, and Fabrice Martin, of France, capped a fine week with a polished performance against No.3 seeds Lloyd Glasspool, of the UK, and Harri Heliovaara, of Finland, to secure a well-deserved Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Doubles title in their first tournament together.
The quartet traded service breaks in a topsy-turvy opening and the first set went to a tiebreak. Cressy and Martin, who had both already lost in Doubles finals on Tour this season with different partners – in Montpellier and Marseille respectively – combined with great effect to take the tiebreak 7-2.
Cressy, from the USA and Martin, from France, have gelled well in Dubai this week since beating No.4 seeds Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinksi on their team debut in the round of 16. They continued that in the second set of Saturday’s final, breaking their opponents’ serve early and remained in control with an impressive service game from Martin securing a memorable 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory, to great applause from an appreciative Dubai crowd.
The victory represents an eighth ATP doubles title for the 36-year-old Martin and a first for Cressy, who only turned professional in 2019.
“I’m really happy to win the title. It has been an incredible week; we’ve been really consistent. We just got along right away when we met a few years ago and the first tournament should have been before now. But I’m glad we did finally – our chemistry is through the roof,” said Cressy.
“This evening was a fitting end to a memorable fortnight in the long and storied history of our Championships. Two great matches with the players giving their all. In many ways I’m sad that this has to end, but congratulations to the 2023 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships winners, our Men’s Singles champion Daniil Medvedev and our Doubles champions Fabrice Martin and Maxime Cressy – truly worthy winners.” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free.
“Once again, the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has exceeded our expectations. Unbelievable tennis, memorable moments and packed grandstands. Thank you to all the players, officials and fans who have made a wonderful 31st Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. We look forward to seeing next year for the 32nd edition,” said Ramesh Cidambi, Chief Operating Officer of Dubai Duty Free.
Salah Talak, joint COO of Dubai Duty Free, and Tournament Director of the Dubai Duty Free, added: “The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships just keeps on delivering. In my 20 years as Tournament Director you think you’ve seen it all, but this year’s edition has had everything: great tennis, magical moments, and memories we can all cherish. To Daniil Medvedev, mabrook, congratulations, what a run. And to our Doubles winners, Fabrice Martin and Maxime Cressy, what a victory. They are the rightful champions tonight, but credit to all the players for giving us so much excitement over the past two weeks.”