‘Championship point, Federer serves into Murray’s forehand. The return looks too high… it is too high. Roger Federer gets his fifth Dubai title’. Those words are from Dubai Eye’s commentary of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final earlier this year. But we won’t be hearing the same in 2013. Not because Murray will be winning, but because he won’t be attending.
Less than two weeks after Murray committed to playing in Abu Dhabi in December, he has said no to Dubai. Why? It’s somewhere he has tremendous support, is fairly easy to travel to and a competition he is more than capable of winning. But it’s what comes after Dubai that is the problem. The Indian Wells Masters in California is an ATP 1,000 Masters event; Dubai is a 500. You’d get more points for just reaching the final of a Masters event than winning in Dubai.
Since getting his first Grand Slam at the US Open, Murray now has his eyes on the world number one spot. To do that, he needs to win the 1,000-pointers – and last year, Murray crashed after Dubai. Sadly for us, his success this year means we’ve lost him for next year.
One man who thinks Murray has a long way to go is Thomas Berdych, the current world number six. He’s tipping Djokovic to get back to the top, while Murray has a fight on his hands. Elsewhere, it’s been a big few weeks for golf in the region. The HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship has been announced, with world number one and two, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, the first names on the team sheet for the tournament, which tees off on Thursday January 17. McIlroy may well be at that tournament as the second man to have won both money lists on either side of the Atlantic – Luke Donald did it last year. The Northern Irishman has explained he will be cutting the number of tournaments he plays in 2013, but Abu Dhabi is one he will be at. Certainly a must-see. Tom Bushell hosts Sport On 7 on City 7 TV (Mon 8pm) and is Arabian Radio Network’s head of sport.
And another thing….
The Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup kicks off at the end of this week: world champions Russia are in action, as are 2009 World Cup winners Brazil and European champions Switzerland. The UAE will face Russia, Tahiti and USA in group A. Entry is free – catch the action at Dubai Festival City. www.beachsoccer.com/events.