February 4 2018 – DUBAI, UAE: Two of the most exciting young players on the ATP World Tour will be vying for the prestigious Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title when play gets underway later this month, with both Lucas Pouille and Karen Khachanov ready to make their mark and continue their climb up the rankings.
Pouille already signalled his intent here last year when he fought all the way to the semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Andy Murray. Having received the 2016 Most Improved Player Award, voted for by his fellow players, he went on to enjoy a successful season. He was the only player to win titles on three surfaces in 2017, highlighted by the biggest title of his career at Vienna where he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final.
Other highlights saw him claim the winners' trophy in Budapest and Stuttgart and reach the final in Marseille, and he was a semi-finalist in Monte Carlo. He held two match points against world number one Rafael Nadal in the first round in Beijing, but his most memorable experience was his win over Belgium's Steve Darcis that clinched a 3-2 victory for France in the Davis Cup final.
Khachanov has yet to match Pouille in establishing himself in the world's top 20, but he has been making impressive strides. He hit some personal milestones last season as he advanced to Grand Slam third and fourth rounds for the first time at the French Open, where he defeated two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych and then John Isner before losing to Andy Murray. He also reached the third round at Wimbledon where he earned his first five-set win before losing to Rafael Nadal.
Other notable performances saw him claim his first victory over a top 10 opponent, David Goffin in Barcelona, and shortly before arriving at Wimbledon he enjoyed the biggest win of his career on his way to reaching the Halle semi-finals, beating world number nine Kei Nishikori before losing to Roger Federer. All that success earned him a place in the inaugural Next Gen Finals held in Milan.
He has been in equally good form as this season got underway, with a run to the Auckland quarter-finals before reaching the third round of the Australian Open where he took a set from 12th seed and former Grand Slam champion Juan Martin del Potro.
'We are thrilled to welcome back two of the most promising young players to be competing on the ATP World Tour,' said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. 'Pouille enjoyed an excellent week here last year and thrilled us all with his nail-biting victory over Evgeny Donskoy, who had earlier defeated Roger Federer. Khachanov had the misfortune to meet the in-form Roberto Bautista Agut in his opening match and will be determined to do well this year. We wish both of them well.'
'The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has long been an important stage for up and coming players to make their mark,' said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. 'Last year Pouille did well here and went on to enjoy the best season of his career so far, and Khachanov has more than proved he is able to follow him into the top 20. It will be interesting to see how they progress both here and throughout the 2018 season.'
Pouille and Khachanov will be just two of the attractions of a fortnight of thrilling tennis action at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium in Garhoud.First, the WTA event takes place between 19th to 24th February and includes Wimbledon winner Garbine Muguruza, defending Dubai champion and recent Brisbane winner Elina Svitolina, five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova, 2017 US Open runner-up and 2018 Australian Open quarter-finalist Madison Keys, nine-time singles champion and 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova and former world number one, 2018 Sydney champion and Australian Open semi-finalist Angelique Kerber. The tournament continues between 26th February and 3rd March with the 26th staging of the ATP World Tour event which includes world number four and ATP World Tour finals champion Grigor Dimitrov.
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.
Grandstand ticket prices for the WTA event start at AED55 for opening rounds to AED735 for the ATP finals, with daily Prime A and Prime B tickets and season tickets also available. (All inclusive of VAT).