Record-breaker Novak Djokovic almost at 100 percent ahead of Dubai return
The indomitable Serb notched up yet another record this week, as it's his 378th as world number one, surpassing the all-time record held by Steffi Graf. Dubai has been a happy hunting ground for Djokovic, as he's claimed Sunday's silverware on no less than five occasions, with only the legendary Roger Federer ahead of him with eight titles in the desert. However, his preparation for the tournament has been limited following the hamstring tear he suffered at the Australian Open, where he overcame adversity to lift his 22nd grand slam title. "I had almost three weeks with no tennis so these last few days it's really been about getting as much tennis practice as possible," Djokovic told the press. "I'm getting closer to 100 percent - still not there but the important thing is there is no pain. I don't have a hindrance to the way I move on the court.
"Dubai in the last 10 or 15 years has become one of the most important places and bases for tennis players, both men and women. So many players come here in the offseason, including myself.
"I try to use a week or two in December and come play the tournament [in February]. Fantastic climate, very international, the conditions, facilities, everything is phenomenal.
"People love tennis [here]. People appreciate tennis players here. I feel comfortable. I feel welcomed. I've had plenty of support in previous years when I've played in Dubai. I'm really looking forward to a great atmosphere on the court."
Djokovic will take on Czech Tomas Machac in the first round. It will be the pair's first meeting, with 22-year-old Machac still finding his feet on the ATP Tour.
Also in the draw in Dubai is defending champion Andrey Rublev, former US Open winner Daniil Medvedev and the talented Felix Auger-Aliassime.
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