Malek Jaziri, 39, will end his two-decade professional tennis journey in Dubai next week. The former top 50 player will retire at one of his favorite events, receive a wild card and enter the main draw in Dubai for the 10th time.
world no. 1 Novak Djokovic will watch Jaziri’s first round match against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, calling him his ‘habibi friend’ and wishing him all the best for the future.
. Likewise, Djokovic thanked the organizers for allowing the veteran to once again participate in the event where he faced him, Andy Murray and Roger Federer.
Malek is one of the most dedicated Davis Cup players, making his debut in 2000 and scoring more than 50 wins for his country. Djokovic and Jaziri met twice in Dubai. The Serb scored a 6-1, 6-2 second-round triumph in 2016 and repeated it four years later.
It took Novak an hour to beat Malek in the opening round of 2020, keeping everything under control and securing his 17th straight win. Djokovic dropped ten points on fast hard court and never faced a break point. The Serb stole more than half of the return points and converted them into four breaks.
Djokovic needed 28 minutes to claim the first set, giving up five points in his games and delivering two breaks in five chances to control the pace. Malek was broken in game two on the third break chance Novak was offered, calling for a misguided challenge to find himself 2-0 down.
Novak Djokovic said nice words about his friend Malek Jaziri.
Djokovic cemented the lead with a check at 15 in the third game and delivered another break when Jaziri hit a backhand slice. Novak fired four service winners in game five and repeated that at 5-1 to close out the opener in style.
Malek held after a deuce early in the second set, and Novak leveled the score at 1-1 after a routine forehand into the net. Struggling for every game, the Tunisian held on in game three following the Serb’s forehand error.
Djokovic grabbed a break at 15 in the fifth game when Jaziri double-faulted and opened up a 4-2 lead with another comfortable hold. Novak secured another break in game seven after an incredible point and served for the 5-2 win.
The Serb sealed the deal in style, hitting four game winners in game eight and moving on to the next round. «Malek is my ‘habibi friend’, I always called him that. He’s a fantastic guy, and I like him a lot. I saw he got a wild card here, so it’s his last dance in this tournament, which is good because he’s had big wins on this court in his career..
He was one of the biggest players in the Arab region in the last ten to 15 years, and it’s great to see him with a wild card. It is very nice of the tournament to give him this last opportunity, in a way, to say goodbye to him.
You will probably find a great role in tennis in a different way after your tennis career. Hope to see you this week in Dubai. Hopefully he can put on a good quality match and show,» said Novak Djokovic.