Eight of the top ten in the ATP rankings are in Dubai to contest the Dubai Duty Free Championships this week. Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer are the only two current top ten ranked players who are not playing in Dubai. Novak Djokovic will play his first match since defeating Rafael Nadal in the longest ever Grand Slam final at the Australian Open. Djokovic will play Cedrik-Marcel Stebe in the first round and is projected to meet Janko Tipsarevic in the quarter-finals, who reached the semi-finals in Marseille this week. Djokovic has drawn Andy Murray in the top half. Murray opens up against Michael Berrer and could meet Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals. Berdych has made a promising start to 2012 and defeated Murray in their last encounter in Paris at the end of 2011.
The bottom half is considerably stronger than the top half with Roger Federer the number two seed in Dubai. Federer will play Michael Llodra in the first round, who has reached the final in Marseille this week. Federer is projected to meet Mardy Fish in the quarter-finals. Fish has not started 2012 with the belief that can he back up what was an excellent 2011. He lost in his first match at Marseille last week to the world number 388, Albano Olivetti. Fish plays Andrea Beck in the first round, but is unlikely to pass his second round opponent, which will be Richard Gasquet or Mikhail Youzhny, in his current form. The final quarter could see a repeat of the Marseille semi-final between Juan Martin Del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Both players have tricky openers, which are the pick of the bunch for first round matches. Del Potro will play the dangerous, Alexandr Dolgopolov and Tsonga will play the Cypriot veteran, Marcos Baghdatis. Also of note is that Novak Djokovic’s younger brother, Marko Djokovic has received a wildcard this week and will play Andrey Golubev in the first round.
Final Prediction – Novak Djokovic d. Roger Federer
Normally I go for at least one underdog in my final predictions but this week I really see no need too! I fully expect both Djokovic and Federer to reach the final although both be tested in the semi-finals. Murray seems to start slowly after long breaks so I don’t think he will be a great threat here.
Watch out for… Tomas Berdych who I think will beat Murray in the quarter-finals and give Djokovic a tough test in the semi-finals. I also think Richard Gasquet will be a unseeded quarter-finalist this week.
You can view my drawsheet for Dubai here