Novak Djokovic takes to the Dubai skies (sort of) ahead of title defence

Defending champion Novak Djokovic took some time out of his preparations for the 2014 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday by taking to the Dubai skies. Well, sort of.

The Serb and world No2 was a guest of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, at his private wind tunnel, operated by Inflight Dubai.

All smiles (from left to right): Novak Djokovic, Marko Djokovic, Carlos Gomez-Herrera and Boris Becker.
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Yahoo Maktoob Sports
Sun, Feb 23, 2014 10:00 AM AST (Arabian)

Djokovic, a four-time winner of the ATP 500 event in the UAE, was joined by his head coach Boris Becker, his brother Marko, and his friend and fellow player, Carlos Gomez-Herrera.

RELATED: Roger Federer talks to Yahoo Maktoob: Back in Dubai and predicting big things in 2014

After a pre-flight briefing from instructor Brad Cole, Djokovic braved the wind tunnel which is powered by four huge turbine engines and can reach top speeds of over 320 kilometres an hour.

The Crown Prince is a keen sky diver and as Djokovic, Becker and Co found out, this is the closest you can get to really jumping out of a plane!

Djokovic, Federer on collision course

Headline acts: Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have been paired in the same side of the draw.

If Djokovic is to successfully defend his Dubai title this year then he may have to overcome five-time winner Roger Federer in the semi-finals after the duo were paired in the same side of Saturday's draw.

The pair have claimed the title an incredible nine times in the last 11 years, with Federer lifting the trophy for three consecutive years between 2003 and 2005, and Djokovic doing the same between 2009 and 2011.

In the past two years they have shared the title, with Federer beating Andy Murray in 2012 and Djokovic overcoming Tomas Berdych in 2013.

RELATED: Venus Williams turns back the clock to seal Dubai hat-trick

Elsewhere, second seed Juan Martin Del Potro, a two-time semi-finalist in Dubau, opens his bid for the title against India wild card Somdev Devvarman, and he could meet 2013 runner-up and recent Rotterdam winner and Australian Open semi-finalist Tomas Berdych in the semi-finals.

Fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga begins his quest for the title against Victor Hanescu and then could face veteran Nikolay Davydenko in the second round.

Sixth seed and two-time former finalist Mikhail Youzhny plays Michal Przysiezny, and seventh seed Philipp Kohlschreiber and eighth seed Dmitry Tursunov both play a qualifier.

Two further wild cards have been given to James Ward, who played a huge part in Great Britain’s recent Davis Cup victory over the United States, and Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri, whose confidence is high after he reached the final of a Challenger event in Dallas earlier this month.