Malek Jaziri has once again drawn a top seed in his opening round in Dubai and at this point, the Tunisian says he has got used to it.
The former top-50 player, now down to 116 in the world, faces No. 1 seed Grigor Dimitrov in his first round in Dubai on Tuesday.
Jaziri drew top seed – the then world No. 1 – Andy Murray in his opener last year in the Emirates and also took on a top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the second round in 2016 and a second-ranked Roger Federer in the 2013 first round.
“My reaction was normal because I’m used to it,” Jaziri told Sport360 when asked about his reaction to the draw this week.
“Most of my matches in Dubai have been against a world No. 1 or a top player in front of a full house stadium. It’s something great but at the same time it’s sometimes nerve-wracking. But hopefully this year I can cause a surprise and win this match. I’m optimistic.”
Jaziri’s best result in Dubai came in 2014 when he reached the quarter-finals before falling to Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber.
The 34-year-old has dropped out of the top-100 for the first time in two years and is looking to return in order to secure his place in Grand Slam main draws throughout the season.
“I’m improving my tennis. I feel like I have more shots in my arsenal, I’ve improved my backhand, and my forehand as well. And hopefully the results will follow,” explained the Tunisian.
“There is progress in my tennis and maybe the results aren’t showing it, not as I expected. But everything takes time, especially when you change things in your game, it takes time to see it reflected in your results. I’m working hard, I’m travelling with my coach (Christophe Freyss) and my fitness coach.
“I’m working hard on my physical fitness so I can be fitter for my matches, and also to extend my career. It’s important as well to make sure my recovery is better and quicker.”
This is Jaziri’s second year working with Freyss, a Frenchman who worked with Roger Federer when he was young.
Jaziri admits his slip in the rankings has been tough to handle but he is hopeful he can rebound.
He is a father to a young boy, Malek Jr., and says his son has been a motivating factor on the court.
“He’s already grabbing my tennis racquets and calls out for me. He is a source of motivation for me,” said Jaziri of his 21-month-old son.
“He watches me play and of course doesn’t understand what’s going on but he sees me running around and he’s happy. I hope to keep being a source of happiness for him.”
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