I'll start us off with some articles from the official website.
Young Stars To Light Up Dubai Tennis Championships
Nadal and Sharapova ready to turn on the magic in Dubai
Dubai, UAE, Tuesday, January 17, 2006: Dubai tennis fans will have the chance to see the brightest young stars in the sporting world for themselves when teenage sensations Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova compete at the Dubai Tennis Championships next month.
Nadal and Sharapova join a stellar cast of Grand Slam champions, including Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Marat Safin, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin-Hardenne, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus and Serena Williams when play gets underway at the Dubai Tennis Stadium on February 20th.
Nadal's unique white pantaloons marked him out as a front-runner in the fashion stakes, and as he backed up his dashing good looks with sensational skills on the court, no player drew as much acclaim as that generated by the Spanish conquistador during the past 12 months.
Still only 19, he managed to go head-to-head with Federer in winning the biggest tournament crowns, capturing a teenage record 11 titles, including his first Grand Slam - the French Open on his debut at Roland Garros - and four ATP Masters Series events.
The number of titles he won broke Mats Wilander's previous teenage record of nine set in 1983. Co-incidentally, he also became the first player to win the French Open on his debut since Wilander in 1982. He was also the first teenager to win a Grand Slam title since Pete Sampras captured the 1990 US Open.
Not only that, he became the first teenager to finish the year ranked number two since the great Boris Becker in 1986. And although he won eight of his 11 titles on clay and compiled an ATP Tour-best 50-2 clay court record during the year, he was also able to claim victories on hardcourts in Montreal and Beijing, and indoors in Madrid.
"Rafael Nadal had a very impressive year in 2005 and he will undoubtedly be looking to go further than his Dubai quarter final appearance two years ago," said Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free, owners and organisers of the event.
"He joins a wonderful line-up of players this year and having young stars such as Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova has added even more excitement to this unique event."
"Both players are among the biggest names, not to mention entertainers, in the tennis world and we can't wait to see them in action in Dubai."
While Nadal attracted the attention of the fashion editors as well as the tennis magazines, he was more than matched in that department by striking blonde Maria Sharapova, who won her opening game on Monday at the Australian Open against German Sandra Kloesel 6-2 6-1.
Her glamorous good looks have not only led to a mass of endorsement deals, but her signing with IMG Models and two appearances in Vogue Italia. One of her sponsors, Motorola, designed a mobile phone especially for her, and after she used one of the phones on a trip to Japan it was auctioned for charity and raised nearly 1 million Yen. That's around $7500, or Dhs 27,547.50.
Her 10 singles titles so far, including Wimbledon and the season-ending WTA Championships, have led to her being nominated for the prestigious Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award in 2005 and also for the Laureus World Newcomer of the Year Award in 2004.
In July last year she was listed in Forbes magazine as the richest female athlete in the world, named as one of People magazine's '50 Most Beautiful People' in 2005, and she became the first tennis player in over two years to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
It is natural for great sporting occasions and glamour to come together in Dubai, and the Dubai Tennis Championships will present the best of both worlds.
The Dubai Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and takes place under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The Dubai Tennis Championships has won a total of 12 ATP/WTA awards. These include the Tournament of the Year award from the WTA in 2001 following the inaugural Dubai Duty Free Women's Open, and the equivalent award from the ATP in 1998, 2003 and 2004 for the Dubai Duty Free Men's Open.
Nadal Ready To Turn On The Magic At Dubai Tennis Championships
Young Spaniard returns to Dubai a different player from two years ago
Dubai, UAE, February 13th, 2006: Rafael Nadal returns to the Dubai Tennis Championships this month as one of the biggest superstars in the game.
But it wasn't always so. When he first played in Dubai, two years ago, he was anonymous, a new kid on the block beginning to test his feet in the water with the big guys. It is doubtful that more than a few even remember watching him as he won his way through to the quarter-finals before losing to Russian Mikhail Youzhny.
But now, powerful and intense, the swashbuckling Spaniard is considered the heir apparent to Roger Federer for number one, even though he is still just 19 years old. He's an all-in package too, with his aggressive style combining with flowing hair and muscular build to make him the biggest pin-up in the game.
"It is incredible how fast Rafael has progressed in such a short period of time and we can't wait to see this young star back in Dubai and competing with the best players in the world for the Men's Open title," said Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free, owners and organisers of the event.
"He is true entertainer and fans will see a totally different player to the one who was here two years ago."
Nadal won his first singles title in 2004, but it was in 2005 that his career really took off. He had never played at Roland Garros except as a junior, but that didn't prevent him beating Federer in the semis and going on to claim the French Open title at his first attempt.
As well as that triumph, Nadal reached number two in the rankings, won 10 titles in addition to Roland Garros, including four Masters Series events. He was also a finalist at the Masters Series tournament in Miami, and he even had time to win the doubles title in Doha.
But his success as a sportsman might not come as such a huge surprise when you know that sporting excellence runs in his family. He is coached by one uncle, and another, Miguel Angel Nadal, is a former professional soccer player who played at FC Barcelona and Real Mallorca and played in the World Cup in 1994, 1998 and 2002.
Little-known by his real name of Rafael Nadal-Parera and nicknamed 'Rafa', the teenager remains modest about his achievements, and believes he will struggle to replicate his success in 2006.
"Well, I think this year is almost impossible to repeat," he said at the end of last season. "I'm going to start next year in high spirits, but without pressure because this has been an incredible year, a year to remember, to keep at home like a picture you hang on the wall. Next year, I'll try my best, knowing and being conscious that I cannot repeat this."
A foot injury cut his season short last year, and kept him out of the Australian Open. However, his time off could work in his favour when he arrives in Dubai fresh and rested after his enforced break from the game.
And to help prevent such an injury in the future, Nadal has been undergoing several biomechanical studies in Barcelona, working with a new shoe insole to release pressure on the area, and he recently travelled to the United States to meet with his shoe manufacturer so they could build a shoe especially for him.
As he returns to court in Dubai, he will face a formidable challenge as he bids for the title against three-time champion Roger Federer, tennis legend Andre Agassi, 2005 Australian Open champion Marat Safin and Davis Cup winner Ivan Ljubicic.
The Dubai Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and takes place at the Dubai Tennis Stadium from 20th February under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.