Thursday, December 11, 2014

IPTL: Djokovic, Sampras & Co touch down in Dubai for league finale

 UAE Royal, Novak Djokovic en route to Dubai from Delhi on Wednesday.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Clive Brunskill/IPTL

 UAE Royals Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic pictured with Kirsten Flipkens and Sania Mirza.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Clive Brunskill/IPTL

 Pistol Pete on his way to Dubai for the very first time.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Clive Brunskill/IPTL

Singapore Slammers team-mates Tomas Berdych and Lleyton Hewitt.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Clive Brunskill/IPTL

The stars of the IPTL finally touched down in Dubai on Wednesday evening after a brief flight delay which Mahesh Bhupathi said was due to fog in New Delhi, from which they were departing.

Unfortunately, the delay meant that UAE Royals, Novak Djokovic and Caroline Wozniacki were a no-show at the press conference but I still managed to have a quick chat with Indian Aces' Pete Sampras, who is in Dubai for the very first time.  

I spoke to Pete about a few things including his thoughts on the IPTL, how the UAE can develop tennis in the country and whether he feels Rafael Nadal can continue to compete at a very high level despite his frequent physical problems. I will be posting the interview soon.
A photo posted by @reemabulleil on

I then went to the players' hotel to meet some friends and perhaps grab a quick chat with Wozniacki but she was having dinner. I caught up with Malek Jaziri, who says that the league experience has been a great one so far. The Tunisian is the only Arab across all four teams and hopefully can draw in some decent Tunisian/Arab supporters this weekend at the Hamdan Sports Complex.

Speaking of the HSC, it's remarkable how quickly they transformed a state-of-the-art Olympic pool to a tennis court. I personally am a massive fan of the HSC and I spend a lot of time there covering major swimming events as well as local meets.

It's a spectacular place and really deserves the trip to the Bypass Road, which granted, is a bit far outside the city centre but is like nothing anyone has seen before. 

I watched Sampras test the court by hitting with Indian Aces player and coach, Fabrice Santoro while the workers continued to add some finishing touches to the place.
A video posted by Sport_360 (@sport_360) on

At the players' hotel, Gael Monfils and Caroline Wozniacki were playing the piano in the lobby for quite some time, as Kiki Mladenovic, Nick Kyrgios - amongst others - gathered around to watch. Of course this wasn't the first time I've witnessed Monfils' musical skills. He once played the piano in the lobby of the Ritz in Doha at like 1:00am sending the hotel staff into a panic. He really has endless talents that guy. Impressive!

A video posted by Caroline Wozniacki (@carowozniacki) on
I'm looking forward to the action starting today. I truly urge those in the UAE to come out and catch some of the very best in the sport put on a great show.

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