After hosting the WTA event last week, won by Venus Williams, the Aviation Club Tennis Centre in Dubai turns to the ATP Tour for the 500 event. The Dubai Tennis Championships is in the 22nd edition for the men and has been dominated by three of the big four in the past 10 years. Only Andy Roddick won from outside this group since 2003 with Rafael Nadal winning in 2006 with Roger Federer at five and Novak Djokovic one behind at four.
Check out the Draw: ATP Dubai 2014 Draw
Djokovic is the defending champion and looks to match Federer’s haul of five and as top seed, will be favoured to do so. He will open against Denis Istomin in the fifth meeting between the two. Djokovic leads the head to head 4-0 with the most recent meeting a straight sets win in this year’s Australian Open. This match will be Djokovic’s first match since the loss to eventual winner Stanislas Wawrinka and he hopes to avoid falling further behind Rafael Nadal in the ATP rankings. The winner plays either Roberto Bautista-Agut or a qualifier, the likes of which include Lukas Lacko and Thiemo de Bakker. Bautista-Agut lost this week in Marseille to eventual finalist Ernests Gulbis.
James Ward is a curious choice of wildcard for this event given he is a constant on the Challenger Tour and has failed to move up so far at the age of 27. He has a winnable match though, facing Teymuraz Gabashvili in round one. Gabashvili made the quarter finals in Delray Beach thanks to Kei Nishikori’s retirement. Mikhail Youzhny is the other seed in the quarter and plays Michal Przysiezny. The Pole is 1-6 on the year with his only win coming over Horacio Zeballos in Australia.
Roger Federer seeks a record sixth title and has on paper a straight forward route to a semi final clash with Djokovic. He hasn’t dropped a set to first round opponent Benjamin Becker in three meetings while he is 13-2 against potential second round opponent Radek Stepanek. The Czech plays Michael Russell who is 2-1 against Stepanek, although both those wins were over ten years ago.
Dmitry Tursunov was a quarter finalist last year at this event and should repeat that feat this year. He plays a qualifier in round one with either Lukas Rosol or Daniel Brands awaiting the winner in round two. Brands leads the head to head 4-2 although just one of them has been played on the main tour. Rosol is 1-5 on the year including a loss to Tursunov in Sydney.
Fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga comes off an excellent week in Marseille, making the final there. He plays Victor Hanescu who has always been more comfortable on the clay. A 2-9 record on hard courts last year shows this, with both wins coming by retirement – although he was 4-1 up in the third against Andrey Kuznetsov. Tsonga could play Nikolay Dayvdenko in round two if both players win. They played in Marseille with Tsonga winning two tight sets in tiebreaks. The Russian faces Andrey Golubev who is in a final of his own this week – Astana Challenger.
Tomas Berdych ended his title drought in the first 500 event of the year in Rotterdam after defeating Marin Cilic in the final. Berdych can continue his good form here and opens against a qualifier. He will face either Sergiy Stakhovsky or Ivan Dodig with a victory. Both players lost to Frenchman in Marseille last time out, Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Richard Gasquet picking up the wins respectively.
Losses to Daniel Evans and Igor Sijsling in the past two events have been disappointing for Philipp Kohlschreiber and he hopes to see off any potential qualifier in round one. An all-German clash could be on the cards if Florian Mayer defeats Andreas Seppi, although the Italian is 2-1 against Mayer.
Juan Martin Del Potro rounds off the draw as second seed and looks to bounce back after failing to defend his Rotterdam title after a loss to Ernests Gulbis in the quarter finals. Del Potro won four 500 events last year and will fancy his chances of making the final, especially with his positive head to head records against Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Del Potro plays wildcard Somdev Devvarman while the other wildcard Malek Jaziri will play Igor Sijsling.
SF: Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer
SF: Juan Martin Del Potro def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
F: Juan Martin Del Potro def. Novak Djokovic