Professional tennis players are seemingly always on the road. With tournaments all around the globe, plus a very short offseason, there is little time for rest and relaxation.
When players do decide to head home, most have a residency either where they grew up, or where they trained. However, there are a lot of tennis players who list Dubai as their country of residence. With no prior connection to the country, many wonder why so many players are drawn to the city in the Middle East.
Why do professional tennis players live in Dubai? The main reason why so many tennis players live in Dubai is for tax purposes. Some countries tax the wealthy well over 50%. Dubai has much friendlier options for players making millions of dollars over their careers. Couple that with great training weather all year for tennis, and it is one oasis that more and more players are taking advantage of.
The Tax Issue In Tennis
The top tennis players in the world have an opportunity to make millions of dollars each year when factoring in winnings, endorsements, and more. With so much money coming in, it makes taxes a very complicated issue. Tennis players often earn their paycheck in numerous countries over a calendar year, and wherever they live, they expect their cut of the money.
Breaking down which taxes should be paid in each country is a tedious task even for a trained accountant. The amount of taxes owed can change pretty dramatically with a simple change of location. It’s hard for some players to commit to moving to an entirely different country, But most keep at least one other home elsewhere as well.
Every single country is different, but some will tax anyone in a high tax bracket between 50% and 60% of their income. Losing that much money to taxes every year is frustrating for a lot of tennis players in particular because they spend a little time enjoying the benefits their taxes are supposed to pay for.
People in just about any profession that make a lot of money are always looking for ways to circumvent the system in some way. Taxes are a form of life in some capacity, but tennis players only have a short window to make a lot of money. It’s hard to blame them for wanting to do whatever possible to keep their earnings in their pocket.
Why Do Tennis Players Choose Dubai?
Tennis players enjoy the tax benefits, but why is Dubai growing in popularity compared to some of the other cities around the globe?
For starters, Dubai has solid weather throughout the year. Yes, in the summer it is extremely hot, but tennis players like training in warm conditions to help out with their fitness levels. If they can survive playing in temperatures well over 100°, they can survive any tournament throughout the year.
It might be hot, but it rarely rains. Outdoor training is much preferred compared to indoor courts, so there is virtually no fear of ever having to reschedule the practice session.
Players originally from Europe are simply not going to find that perfect combination of great training weather and tax benefits anywhere else. It’s relatively easy to get to you from a lot of different tournaments throughout the year, which certainly helps as well.
What little tennis offseason there is happens in November and December. For most of the world, these are cold weather months, but Dubai usually sits in the 70° to 80° range.
Which Current Players Have Homes In Dubai?
The list is always changing of players who have homes and/or residency in Dubai. Tennis players are always buying and selling property, so what might be accurate now, won’t be accurate even a year from now.
Roger Federer is the most notable name connected to Dubai. He speaks very fondly of the area, and he has a beautiful apartment he lives in and trains in during certain times of the year. Compared to the sometimes harsh winter weather in Switzerland, he can maximize his training in warm weather conditions in Dubai.
Karen Khachanov, Lucas Pouille, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and of course Federer have helped to start the trend. Federer can bring his train staff with him everywhere he goes, but some of the players not making the same amount of money might work with trainers based out of Dubai. Some coaches work out of the country, and that allows them to be there when a top professional is spending time at their home.
Other Moving Factors
Dubai has all the tax benefits and training facilities a player could ask for, but there are other reasons why players will move to the city as well.
A lot of players feel like they are much more productive with their training and focused when away from friends and family. With so little time off, going back home it’s sometimes filled with too many distractions. If a player is trying to focus on improvement, going to Dubai and having some isolation is beneficial.
Another benefit to Dubai is that players don’t run the risk of being recognized and stopped everywhere they go. Famous players at times can’t find it exhausting to even go out to eat once in a while in areas they are easily recognized.
Dubai is a major city with a lot of rich and famous people living in it. They aren’t as were shipped in the city, allowing them to go about their day and live a more normal lifestyle.
Other Popular Areas For Tennis Players
Go to the official ATP or WTA website, and there will be a trend of players living in certain parts of the world. Dubai is one of those cities, along with Monte Carlo, Geneva, and a few warm cities in the United States. They all offer some sort of tax benefit, and they have laws in place that make it relatively easy to establish residency.
The top players in the world might have a few different homes in different areas of the world. One example is Roger Federer, who has a place to live in Dubai, as well as two different homes in his home country of Switzerland. All the locations offer some tax benefits for people making millions of dollars, so they can hold onto more of their earnings.
How Has Tennis In Dubai Changed The Scene Overall?
Up until the 1990s, a tennis tournament in Dubai did not seem like a possibility. There was simply no presence to speak of in the area, and it isn’t always the easiest part of the world to get to.
That began to gradually change in 1993 when the Dubai Open was first held. It was a very rough-looking tournament, in the beginning, play on hard courts surrounded by a bunch of temporary seating. It didn’t look much different than a local tournament for a college.
Originally a very small tournament that was a 250 level event, it has evolved quite a bit over the years. Money has been poured into the tournament to upgrade facilities and draw top players in the world to the United Arab Emirates. They strive to get around 75% of the top players in the world to come to the tournament, which takes place early on in the tennis season every year.
In its present form, it is an ATP World Tour 500 event and a WTA Premier event. Between the two tournaments, they give away just under $6 million in prize money every single year. If it wasn’t for tennis players moving to the area and helping to grow the sport in the country, this never would be on the schedule.
It comes as no surprise that Roger Federer has the most titles at the tournament, with eight trophies to his name. He considers it his home away from the home tournament, and he has the luxury of staying at his apartment when the event goes on.
Those who don’t live or have residency in the country still live a very enjoyable lifestyle during the tournament. Officials always put them in great hotels close to the facility, and really sell them on the city in general.
Final Thoughts About Dubai
It’s hard for a lot of people to fully understand Dubai unless they have the opportunity to visit. Anyone with a lot of money can live a life of luxury in an area of the world and see little to no rain. The facilities weren’t always there to train, but they have been built to entice other tennis players to move as well.
Between the life of luxury, the weather, and the tax benefits, it makes any player think that there could be some major benefits living in the area. If it’s good enough for Roger Federer, it’s good enough for any tennis player in the world.