Organisers prepared for foul weather

Tournament director Tahlak says staff equipped to deal with rain during the week

08:49 February 24, 2018

Dubai: Organisers Dubai Duty Free are unfazed by the prospect of rain during the ongoing Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships that will continue with the men’s competition till March 3.

The weather forecast for the next few days is quite typical of the region with thunderstorm and rain being predicted for next Sunday [February 25]. And after a couple of good days on Monday and Tuesday, there may be a passing morning shower on Wednesday [February 28] as per the forecast.

“We’ve always had bad weather affecting the two weeks of tennis in the past. So this is nothing new,” tournament director Salah Tahlak told Gulf News.

“Dubai has had rain and thundershowers on so many occasions in the past during the course of the two weeks of tennis, and we have done well with our on-court staff in putting up a show year after year,” he added.

In recent years, the worst time that the tennis was affected was in 2010 with then world No. 2 Novak Djokovic on track to defend his Dubai title when torrential rain, thunder and lightning halted play. The Serbian was leading by a set and was a break up against Mikhail Youzhny when the heavens opened and play was halted.

“I will never forget that year. Everything was so out of place and we struggled to ensure we had the courts in prime condition so that the players were not at a risk,” Tahlak recounted.

“No one has any control over the weather. But from past experiences with the weather we have invested in court dryers and other equipment over a period of time to ensure that play is possible in the case of such occurrences,” he added.

Earlier this week play was stopped for at least eight minutes when Saturday’s finalist Garbine Muguruza was up against American wild card Catherine Bellis. After taking the first set 6-3, Muguruza was on serve when a minor drizzle halted play for about five minutes. The court staff was quick to respond as they quickly wiped the water off the court and play re-commenced.

“In case the weather does go bad then we will be ready to deal with it,” Tahlak said.