Novak Djokovic, the World No.1, arrives in Dubai for the first time since 2016 as he hopes to clinch his 5th title in the desert and continue his unbeaten run so far this year. The 32-year old Serb is 13-0 in singles so far in 2020 having won the ATP Cup for Serbia and then the Australian Open down under earlier this year as he starts as the firm favourite to win his 2nd title of the season at Dubai, especially in the absence of 2019 Dubai Open champion Roger Federer, who underwent a surgery on his right knee on Wednesday in Switzerland.
As far as the draw is concerned, the No.1 seed Djokovic finds himself in the top half of the draw alongside 3rd seeded Gael Monfils, 5th seed Karen Karen Khachanov and the last and 8th seeded Benoit Paire.
The veterans Marin Cilic and Richard Gasquet also find themselves in the mix in the top half of the draw as Cilic and Paire will form an interesting first round match-up at Dubai.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, who find himself in the final at the ongoing ATP 250 event at Marseille, France is the No.2 seed at Dubai and will be joined by the 4th seeded Fabio Fognini, 5th seed Roberto Bautista Agut and 6th seed Andrey Rublev to constitute the bottom half of the draw.
The bottom half of the draw is fiercely matched as compared to the first half of the draw, comprising of promising players like Pablo Carreno Busta, Hubert Hurkacz, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Daniel Evans to name a few apart from the four seeds.
Tsistsipas, the finalist at Dubai last year, where he lost in straight sets to Roger Federer in the title clash, faces a tricky test upfront this time around as he takes on the Spaniard Carreno Busta in his Round of 32 clash at Dubai.
Some of the other interesting first round match-up’s in the bottom half of the draw include the No.4 seed Fognini taking on Britain’s Evans, Alexander Bublik, who lost to Tsitspas in the semi-final at Marseille, facing Hurkacz and Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic taking on Joao Sousa.
As far as the quarter-final line-up at Dubai is concerned, Djokovic might face his first stern test against Khachanov in the quarter-final. While Djokovic appears to be on a roll, Khachanov is struggling to find form and the battle against Djokovic might just bring the best out of the talented Russian.
In the 2nd quarter-final, we might witness the Montpellier and Rotterdam Open champion Gael Monfils taking on either Marin Cilic or Richard Gasquet. The 33-year old Frenchman, who was a semi-finalist at Dubai last year, appears to be in fine form and would dearly hope to remain in contention for winning his 1st title at Dubai this year.
The 6th seed Rublev might face either Dan Evans or Fabio Fognini in the 3rd quarter-final at Dubai. The 3rd octet is certainly a group of death with no clear favourites to make the quarter-final and the players like Krajinovic and Pierre-Hugues Herbert will fancy their chances as well.
As far as the last octet is concerned, Spain’s Bautista Agut and Tsitsipas can potentially meet each other in a mouth-watering quarter-final to complete the last 8 at Dubai. Both these players would be hungry for success, especially after facing early exits at the Australian Open earlier this year as they stand an outside chance of winning the title at Dubai.
Can Djokovic, emulating his run in 2011 where he won 43 matches in a row, continue his winning streak to lift his 5th title in Dubai this year or will the likes of Tsitsipas, Monfils or Bautista Agut stun the World No.1 to write their own story of success?
Let the action get underway at the Dubai Open!
Probable quarter-final lineup:
(1) Novak Djokovic Vs (7) Karen Khachanov
(3) Gael Monfills Vs Marin Cilic
(6) Andrey Rublev Vs Daniel Evans
(5) Roberto Bautista Agut Vs (2) Stefanos TsitsipasPublished 23 Feb 2020, 08:06 IST