Novak Djokovic, the 21-time Grand Slam champion, and three-time major winner Iga Swiatek will headline the inaugural World Tennis League in Dubai Dec. 19-24, organizers announced.
The new event says it “will not only showcase many of the best men and women players in the world, but will also offer a fun-filled format featuring epic two-set battles across both singles and mixed doubles matches, with tie-breaks set to decide the final outcome if needed.”
It comes during a spot in the calendar when most top players traditionally don’t compete as it’s during the holidays. The first Grand Slam event of 2023, the Australian Open, runs Jan. 16-29.
“The World Tennis League will be an event like no other,” said Rajesh Banga, Chairman of the World Tennis League. “It brings a unique and engaging new format to the game of tennis, offering a spectacular mix of sport and entertainment together. We can’t wait to welcome fans from around the globe for this momentous event that hails a new era for tennis.”
Djokovic, who won Wimbledon this summer for his 21st major and is currently playing this week in Tel Aviv, headlines the men’s field, along with Alexander Zverev and Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios.
In the the women’s field, former world No. 1 Simona Halep and current Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina are slated to play alongside Swiatek, who won the French Open and U.S. Open this season.
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“This new event is exciting, there’s no doubt about it,” said Djokovic. “I absolutely love playing in Dubai, I’ve had a lot of success there over the years and really enjoy the fans. This is something different, and it’s going to be great being a part of it.”
Said Swiatek: “I like it most when tennis connects people and when it’s true entertainment. When it’s combined with a great show and music, it’s even better, so that’s the reason why I’m excited to join this year’s World Tennis League. I’m happy that together with other top players we’ll introduce tennis as fun to new audiences. I can’t wait!”
A player lottery will be held on November 1st, and the 16-player line-up will be split into four teams of four players each, and a round robin format for matches across the tournament before a final day showdown with the top two teams.