Novak Djokovic Returns to Tour to Hunt for a Sixth Dubai Crown

Novak Djokovic, in action here, will make his return to the ATP Tour in Dubai.

Novak Djokovic is set to make his first appearance on the court, since winning a record tenth Australian Open title, at the ATP 500 Dubai Tennis Championships. Djokovic has found Dubai a happy hunting ground in past, winning the tournament on five occasions. Only eight-time champion Roger Federer has claimed more titles in the desert.

Novak Djokovic’s five finals in Dubai

The Serb has won all of the finals he has played in Dubai, dropping only one set.

2009 – Djokovic beat David Ferrer, 7-5 6-3

2010 – Djokovic beat Mikhail Youzhny, 7-5 5-7 6-3

2011 – Djokovic beat Roger Federer, 6-3 6-3

2013 – Djokovic beat Tomas Berdych, 7-5 6-3

2020 – Djokovic beat Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-3 6-4

Djokovic has not played since beating Tsitsipas in straight-sets in the  Melbourne last month, and has declared himself fit after it was revealed that he had a three-centimetre tear in his hamstring.

“I’m going to play in Dubai. My injury is healed but I’m still not at 100 percent. Things are looking very good,” said the world #1.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion comes into the event knowing that on Monday he will officially have spent more weeks as #1 than anyone else, surpassing Steffi Graf’s 377-week record that has stood for over 25 years.

However, he may have to win the title Dubai to keep hold of his ranking with Carlos Alcaraz hot on the Serb’s heels.

Novak Djokovic’s potential path to a sixth title in Dubai

This is Djokovic’s potential draw to the title, based off rankings:

First round – Tomas Machac (Qualifier)

Second round – Tallon Griekspoor

Quarterfinal – Hubert Hurkacz (5)

Semifinal – Daniil Medvedev (3)

Final – Andrey Rublev (2)

After the conclusion of Dubai, Djokovic’s immediate future is unknown. The Serb is hoping to play at the Sunshine Double, in Indian Wells and Miami, but due to his vaccination status he is currently unable to enter the United States. However, it was revealed by his younger brother, Djordje, that Novak Djokovic had applied for a ‘special permit’ to gain access to the tournaments and was awaiting the outcome of that decision.

If Djokovic does not succeed in gaining entrance to the United States, he will likely make his return to action in his adopted home of Monte Carlo for the Masters 1000 tournament there which kicks off the European clay-court season in earnest. Djokovic has twice the title in Monte Carlo, but not since 2015 and was beaten there in his opener last season by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Main photo credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports