Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal resume their seasons this week in Dubai and Acapulco
Federer lost to young star Stefanos Tsitsipas in Australia, and the Swiss maestro will be keen to compartmentalize that defeat and get some success in Dubai. In search of his 100th career title, Federer has won Dubai seven times and goes into the tournament as one of the favourites.
Federer began his campaign against German Philipp Kohlschreiber, an experienced player who even knocked out fellow countryman Alexander Zverev at last year’s US Open. Luckily, Federer had been practicing against the German in the previous week, which aided his understanding of the opponent's playing style.
Federer overcame a mid-match hiccup to sail into the second round with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win over Kohlschreiber today.
His main adversaries going forward are top seed Kei Nishikori, as well as Stefanos Tsitsipas and the Croatia duo of Marin Cilic and Borna Coric.
Nishikori opens against the very dangerous Frenchman, Benoit Paire. Cilic meanwhile faces off against Gael Monfils. The Croatian hasn’t played since Australia and will be keen to put his injury worries behind him.
Tomas Berdych, the Czech, also has a good track record in Dubai, and will be dangerous for all his opponents.
Over in Acapulco, Rafael Nadal will take on Mischa Zverev, the older brother of Alexander Zverev, in an intriguing first round contest.
German prodigy Alexander Zverev will himself face young Australian Alexei Popyrin, whose big hitting game took him to the third round of the Australian Open.
The defending champion Juan Martin Del Potro had to withdraw following a persistent knee injury. Meanwhile former world number three Stan Wawrinka is also in action, and will be keen to have a good tournament.
Another young Australian, Alex de Minaur, will be seeking to go far in the draw too. And a host of Americans - Frances Tiafoe, Sam Querrey and John Isner - would all be title threats to Nadal.
The tournament is also one of legendary Spaniard David Ferrer’s send-off events, and he takes on American Tennys Sandgren. Ferrer announced that he will retire after the Barcelona Open.
Also in the field is diminutive Argentine Diego Schwartzman. There are a few other interesting first-round match-ups too, including Nick Kyrgios vs Andreas Seppi.
The field in Acapulco is arguably stronger than that of Dubai, so it will be a good test for Nadal ahead of Miami and Indian Wells. Federer meanwhile will be eager to win his first tournament of 2019 and capture his 100th career title.