The big news in Dubai on Tuesday was Juan Martin del Potro retiring in his first round match to Somdev Devvarman with the wrist injury that has bothered him for much of 2014. I am really gutted for the big guy because this does not sound good. I can see another really lengthy spell on the sidelines, which would be just terrible for his career. He’s one of the few, if not the only player, who I believe can regularly challenge the likes of Nadal, Djokovic and Murray. He’s also my favourite ATP player! Wishing all the best to DelPo and fingers crossed this wrist just magically heals…
1. Philipp Kohlschreiber v Andreas Seppi (Dubai, R2)
While Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic should both amble into the quarter-finals (I will probably regret saying that now) I thought I’d focus on one of the more balanced second round matches between Philipp Kohlschreiber and Andreas Seppi. Kohlschreiber came through his first match against Thiemo De Bakker, 6-3 6-3 although it should have been a lot easier after he led 5-0 in the second set. The world number 26 has made a stuttering start to the year and is yet to make it past the quarter-finals of any of the four tournaments he has played this year. Seppi’s start to the year has been even more shaky with just one win from his first six matches. He did however defeat Florian Mayer in the first round of Dubai, 4-6 6-1 7-5, which was by quite some distance, his best performance of the year. Seppi is a solid player, who has steadily built up his ranking in the past two years with a series of consistent displays. He lacks a big weapon though so miserable spells like his start to 2014 are not uncommon.
Kohlschreiber leads the head-to-head by 4 wins to 3 and won their last match in Paris at the end of 2013. I would say Seppi has more intensity about him than Kohlschreiber, but the German player has a superior set of weapons in his artillery and if he can find a solid rhythm, should beat Seppi to reach the quarter-finals.
Prediction: Kohlschreiber d. Seppi in 3 sets
2. James Ward v Mikhail Youzhny (Dubai, R2)
I was rather surprised to see James Ward get a main draw wildcard in Dubai. He took advantage of it with a first round rollercoaster win over Teymuraz Gabashvili, 2-6 6-4 7-6(6). I believe Ward unsuccessfully served for the match twice in the third set. He is not known as the most mentally stable of competitors although fair play to him for earning the win in the tiebreak. Ward helped Great Britain qualify for the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup after beating Sam Querrey in a five set rubber. I watched the first set of that match, which was truly ghastly and I still don’t know how he won that match. I suppose with Querrey on the opposite side of the net, anything is possible. The world number 177 will now play Mikhail Youzhny, who won his first match since the Australian Open in defeating Michal Przysiezny, 6-3 6-4. I believe the Russian player has been struggling with injury, but his first round win here was a positive sign. Ward can go out swinging as the underdog although if Youzhny comes out on the ball, he should have enough game to progress comfortably.
Prediction: Youzhny to beat Ward in 2 sets
ATP Dubai 2nd Round Predictions
Novak Djokovic d. Roberto Bautista-Agut in 2 sets
Dmitry Tursunov d. Lukas Rosol in 3 sets
Roger Federer d. Radek Stepanek in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. Nikolay Davydenko in 2 tight sets
Tomas Berdych d. Sergiy Stakhovsky in 2 sets
Somdev Devvarman d. Malek Jaziri in 3 sets
WTA Florianopolis 2nd Round Predictions
Carla Suarez Navarro d. Kiki Bertens in 2 sets
Monica Niculescu d. Danka Kovinic in 2 sets
Klara Zakopalova d. Alize Lim in 3 sets
Alexandra Dulgheru d. Teliana Pereira in 3 sets
Paula Ormaechea d. Alison Van Utyvanck in 3 sets
Garbine Muguruza d. Chanelle Scheepers in 2 sets
Acapulco’s schedule currently has matches beginning at 10pm UK time so it will be difficult to cover their matches in my daily preview unless I can find time in my lunch hour!