DUBAI, February 24, 2022 (DDFT Press Release)
Thomas Karlberg, the ATP Supervisor who officiated at the very first Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, has returned for the 30th anniversary celebrations of the tournament. Karlberg visited Dubai in 1992 ahead of the tournament’s inception in 1993, meeting with Colm McLoughlin, Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman & CEO and Jeff Chapman, the very first Tournament Director.
“It is good to have Thomas back for our 30th edition given our long-standing relationship with the ATP,” said Mr. McLoughlin. “Our journey to establish the very first Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships began in 1992 when Jeff Chapman suggested that we approach the ATP to secure a week on the tour. Thomas was one of the ATP officials who visited Dubai to assess the facilities and liked what he saw. 30 years later it is great that he is back with us and I am sure that he sees so many changes both in Dubai and in the tournament.”
The first edition of the tournament was memorable in many ways, featuring temporary stands, sand storms, heavy rain and a delayed final which was attended by Tournament Patron, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Over the years, the showpiece tournament has since grown in stature to become one of the leading events in the world, welcoming tennis legends Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic as the tournament’s popularity quickly grew. The WTA week was added in 2001 and similarly attracted the top women players including Martina Hingis, who won the event, Mary Pierce from France and Spaniard Arantxa Sánchez Vicario.
Both Murray and Djokovic have returned this year as some of the biggest names in a high-quality field competing for the famous Dhow trophy.
Karlberg recalls the opening years of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with ambitious Dubai determined to host a leading championship for sports fans.
“The tournament has improved every year with increased prominence on the sporting calendar,” said Karlberg while hosting the tournament’s official draw. “I have fond memories of Dubai and my early years visiting were focused on establishing a leading tennis tournament that everyone could enjoy. Dubai has experienced impressive growth and I am so proud to see how the tournament has evolved, matching the lofty ambitions of this world-class city.”
Looking forward to the future, Karlberg believes the tournament can only continue to keep getting better, stating: “The energy of the fans is exceptional and this tournament will grow even stronger as it cements itself on the global sporting calendar.”