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 10th ATP Dubai
 Duty Free Men's Open
by Ben Smalley


    W
orld-class tennis began Dubaiís sporting calendar for 2002 with some of the biggest names in the menís and womenís game competing in the Dubai Tennis Championships from February 18ĖMarch 3.

    The ATP Dubai Duty Free Menís Open was celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and was fittingly won by Fabrice Santoro, who was the beaten finalist when the Dubai Open first began in 1993. The Frenchmanís 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Moroccan Younes El Aynaoui in the final was even more remarkable considering he was suffering from a bout flu and had spent most of the day in a wheelchair in hospital suffering from acute dehydration.

    Santoro decided only 30 minutes before the final that he would play and, with dramatically reduced mobility, which forced him to adapt his style drastically, he somehow conjured up a courageous victory.

    "It was only half an hour before the start that I decided to try," the Davis Cup star said. "I had a shower and felt better and told myself that if I felt bad I would stop after ten minutes.

    "I would probably have stopped had I lost the first set, and I never really thought I could win. But a human being has amazing powers. Sometimes you feel like you are going to die and you still have resources."

    Santoro had defeated Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic in the semi-finals, having already seen off the challenge of Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia, Sebastien Grosjean of France and Michael Kohlman of Germany in the earlier rounds. El Aynaoui, who won the title in Doha in the first week of the year, had won through to the final by beating reigning Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson in the semis and also saw off top seed and reigning Dubai champion Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain who withdrew injured from their second round tie.

    Local hope Omar Bahrouzyan from the UAE crashed out 6-1, 6-0 to Britainís Tim Henman in the first round, and reigning Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisavic also failed to cross the first hurdle, losing to Nicholas Kiefer 6-3, 6-4 in his opening match.

    The addition of womenís tennis to the Dubai Championships for the second successive year saw Australian Open semi-finalist Monica Seles, reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion Venus Williams and Anna Kournikova among the big names wowing the crowds.

    Williams knocked Kournikova out of the competition in the second round 6-2, 7-6 and looked to be setting up a legendary final clash with Seles, but a series of unforced errors saw both Americans crash out in the semi finals with Sandrine Testud coming from behind to defeat Williams 1-6, 7-6, 6-4 and Amelie Mauresmo taking just 62 minutes to beat Seles 6-4, 6-3.

    Their victories set up an all-French final, only the fourth in Sanex WTA Tour history, which proved a thrilling climax to the competition. Despite third-seed Mauresmo winning in straight sets 6-4, 7-6, she was severely tested by Testud, who had won their two previous clashes.

    In the Doubles competitions, reigning Australian Open champions Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor ousted defending champions Joshua Eagle and Sandon Stolle 3-6, 6-3 13-11 to become the new menís doubles champions, while Barbara Rittner of Germany and Maria Vento-Kabchi of Venezuela defeated Testud and Roberta Vinci of Italy in the womenís doubles final.

    The decision to branch out into the Industrial Civils market with the Polyethylene Plant in Al Ruwais and now the Control and Switchgear Building at the ĎK Stationí expansion at DEWAís power and desalination plant in Jebel Ali has added another chapter to the type of work that the highly successful Joint Venture between Al Habtoor Engineering Enterprises and Murray & Roberts is able to handle. It represents an exciting new era for the Joint Venture, with tenders for further industrial projects currently being made.

 

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