Dubai, Feb 22 (IANS) World No.1 Novak Djokovic and his rival No.4 Stan Wawrinka said they feel prepared and highly motivated to win the 24th edition of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which started here with the qualifying matches.

The two tennis aces said they can achieve more in their career, reports Xinhua.

“It is a fantastic atmosphere and I always like to play in Dubai as it marks a good opportunity to get back on track after the Grand Slam in Australia,” said Djokovic on Sunday. The Serb won the last Grand Slam in Melbourne at end of January, his sixth Major title Down Under — an all time-record.

Swiss Wawrinka agreed, saying that the atmosphere in Dubai is unique “and I understand that so many of my colleagues also do their winter training here because of the warm weather and good conditions”.

Outdoor temperatures range around 24 degrees Celsius here these days with clouds rarely showing up.

On his rivalry with the Serb, Wawrinka said, “We had some tough Grand Slam matches. When I play my best tennis I can bring the victory home.” In June 2015, Wawrinka defeated Djokovic in four sets at the French Open final which the Swiss described then as “the match of my life”.

To the disappointment of many tennis fans, last year’s champion Roger Federer pulled out of the championships in the Gulf emirate which he won seven times. The 34-year-old Swiss cited an injury which he suffered when he was lost the semi-finals in Australia in January.

Djokovic said he nevertheless expects everything than an easy tournament adding that the line-up of top seeds is strong. Czech World No.8 Tomas Berdych, Roberto Bautista Augut (18) and Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber (34) are also participating at this year’s event which has a total prize money of $2.673 million.

“I am now 28 and at the peak of my career. But I am still highly motivated to reach more,” said the Belgrade-born, who is coached by former Slovak elite player Marion Vajda and German legend Boris Becker. He will play the first round against Spain’s Tommy Robredo while Wawrinka will encounter Sergiy Stakhovski from Ukraine.

The final of this year’s Dubai Open will take place on February 27 on the centre court of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium at the sheikhdom’s Aviation Club.

    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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