Amir Naqvi, Sports Editor
One of the top Tunisian tennis stars, Malek Jaziri, ended his glorious two-decade career with a defeat in the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Monday.
Jaziri, a semi-finalist in Dubai in 2018, lost to Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at the Centre Court in the second match of the day.
Jaziri departs at the age of 39 as one of the most popular players from Tunisia and the Arab world.
He represented Arab and North African tennis for almost 20 years and emerged as the next big face following the retirement of Morocco’s top three players, Younes El-Aynaoui, Hicham Arazi, and Karim Alami.
“Dubai has a special place for me. I have a lot of good memories. That’s why I wanted to finish here in Dubai. I would like to thank the tournament officials, Dubai Duty Free, and Salah Tahlak for giving me the opportunity to play here for my last competition on the ATP Tour.
“A lot of emotion. It’s as if all of my memories from the last 12 years have returned in three seconds, including all of the matches I’ve played here. I played against the majority of the world’s No. 1s as well as the majority of the tournament’s seeded No. 1s. I have a flashback,” he said in a post-match press conference.
“When you know that it’s going to be your last tournament, it’s very special. I cannot describe it because it’s not only emotional, it’s something you don’t know what’s next, actually,” added Jaziri, who once reached a career-high world ranking of 42.
“I always wanted to finish here. It means a lot to me. It means a lot to a lot of people because Dubai has given me a lot over the years, not just this year, but for many years a lot of Tunisian fans, a lot of fans from the Arab world came to support me on the courts,” Jaziri added.
The Tunisian’s best Grand Slam results came at the Australian Open, where he reached the third round in singles in 2015 and 2017.
He also made the US Open semi-finals in doubles in 2018.