2017 ATP Dubai Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The ATP World Tour returns to the Middle East for ritzy 500 level action in Dubai, where a host of elite ATP players are vying for the title. Here is your preview with predictions of the Dubai tennis championships.
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 500
February 27-March 4, 2017
Prize Money: $2,429,150
Top 4 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Andy Murray (1)
2: Stan Wawrinka (3)
3: Roger Federer (9)
4: Gael Monfils (12)
A solid field features in Dubai, including three top-10 ranked Grand Slam champions.
First round matches to watch:
Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. (8)Gilles Muller
Kohli has yet to find rthymn this season while Muller hasn’t had great draws since winning Sydney. Despite the h2h in favor of the German, Muller should be able to serve well enough to gain a narrow victory in this one.
(3)Roger Federer vs. Benoit Paire
Federer has never lost to Paire, and of course he won the Australian Open. Paire meanwhile has dropped three straight matches after posting an ATP semi a couple of weeks ago. Still this is a great style matchup between one handed backhands, Paire likely doesn’t believe he can win this, but this is a form check match for Federer.
Daniel Evans vs. Dustin Brown
Brown hasn’t played well since injuring his back, but he’s still a dangerous serve and volleyer if the surface plays quick. Evans is in the midst of a tremendous 2017, and will look to continue to the momentum in this tournament stop. His one handed backhanded should be good enough to gain a victory, but Brown is a tricky opponent.
Andy Murray will start his journey in Dubai against Malek Jaziri, who always gets local crowd support. He should win that match, and then defeat either Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or more likely Viktor Troicki to reach the quarterfinals. Waiting for him in the quarters should be Muller/Kohlschreiber, but Daniil Medvedev is an intriguing dark horse. The Russian has two quarterfinals and an ATP final this season. He’s posted rapid improvements at a young age, and I have him outgunning Muller before falling to Murray in the quarters.
Seven-time Dubai champion Roger Federer will face a qualifier or Mikhail Youzhny after taking on Paire. Federer should beat the veteran Youzhny, and then face the finalist in Marseille Lucas Pouille. Pouille found form in France and should put away a struggling Adam Pavlasek, then J.L. Struff or a qualifier to reach the quarterfinals. A fresher Federer has the edge on Pouille.
Defending champion Stan Wawrinka starts his title defense against Damir Dzumhur, with Jiri Vesely or Marcel Granollers to follow. None of the players in this section are in great form, Wawrinka should be fresh and focused though. In the quarterfinals Tomas Berdych, 8-3 in 2017, looms. Berdych faces a qualifier first, with Robin Haase or a qualifier to follow in a weak section. Wawrinka leads the h2h with Berdych 11-5 and has dominated the matchup recently, he should reach the semifinals.
Two talented shotmakers, Roberto Bautista Agut and Gael Monfils, should face off in the quarterfinals. Monfils faces wild card Mohamed Safwat, with Evans/Brown to follow, while RBA will face a struggling Karen Khachanov, with Florian Mayer or Fernando Verdasco to follow. Only RBA has form in this section and should reach the quarters. Monfils has a 3-0 h2h against RBA and is the favorite to reach the semifinals.
Dark Horse: Daniel Evans
The Monfils/RBA section is the weakest part of the draw, creating an opening for Evans to perhaps reach the quarterfinals or better if he plays his best tennis. The Brit is a solid part of the ATP tour at this point, but with his game still improving, he could become more than that.
Federer d. Murray
Wawrinka d. Monfils
Federer has won five straight against Murray, while Wawrinka has a 3-2 h2h edge over Monfils. Given his form in Melbourne, Federer is the favorite against the world #1.
Federer d. Wawrinka
Federer has a 19-3 h2h win over Wawrinka and a h2h this year, we could see an all-Swiss final, and Roger will be the favorite.