Grigor Dimitrov, and French Stars Lucas Pouille and Richard Gasquet Lead Weakened Field at ATP Dubai Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2018 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships are a 500 level stop in Dubai on outdoor hard courts. Normally an event on the elite side of the 500 level, the field is relatively weak this year, opening up opportunities for ranking points and prize money for players outside of the top 10. Here is your full preview, with predictions.
Top seed Grigor Dimitrov has put together a solid season thus far. He should defeat local favorite Malek Jaziri, and either Robin Haase or Quentin Halys to reach the quarters. Philipp Kohlschreiber has an advantage to reach the quarters in his section. Kohli hasn’t had a great 2018, but Gleb Sakharov is his first opponent, then Mikhail Kukushkin or Stefanos Tsitsipas, both of whom are struggling. Kohli over the young Greek is my pick, with Dimitrov reaching the semis.
Roberto Bautista Agut is looking to get back on track against Florian Mayer first up, with Joao Sousa or Pierre-Hugues Herbert to follow. RBA should be good enough to reach the quarters. The section featuring Richard Gasquet vs. Borna Coric and Benoit Paire vs. Yoshihito Nishioka is the strongest of the draw. Paire and Gasquet have both been solid this year, and Coric has potential. I’ll go with Gasquet over Paire in round 2, with Gasquet knocking off RBA in the quarters.
Ernests Gulbis has qualified for two ATP tournaments this year. He’ll open with Marseille finalist Lucas Pouille. Given the fatigue factor, I’ll go with Gulbis to upset Pouille and also defeat Karen Khachanov, who is coming off a big title in Marseille. Khachanov opens with Denis Istomin. Yuichi Sugita or J.L. Struff should benefit big time in this section. Sugita opens with an in-form Ilya Ivashka, who reached his first ever ATP semi in Marseille. Struff faces a struggling Andreas Haider-Maurer. I’ll back Struff over Sugita and Gulbis in consecutive matches to reach the semis.
Yannick Maden is moving his way up the ATP rankings but Marseille quarterfinalist Damir Dzumhur should defeat him in the opening round. Evgeny Donskoy reached quarters in Delray Beach and should defeat Blaz Kavcic. I’ll back Dzumhur to reach the quarters from that section.
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.
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.
Semis 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.
Final 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.
2016 ATP Dubai Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The ATP World Tour will stop in the middle east once again for the 500 level hard court tournament in Dubai.
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 500
February 22-27, 2016
Prize Money: $2,249,215
Top 4 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Stan Wawrinka (4)
3: Tomas Berdych (8)
4: Roberto Bautista Agut (18)
The Dubai field has a big drop off outside of the marquee names, but it’s still a quality 500 level tournament.
First round matchups to watch:
(6)Feliciano Lopez vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
A battle of veteran Spaniards who have split their career hard court meetings. The serve and volleyer Lopez and the all-courter Garcia-Lopez have both gotten off to poor starts this season, and badly need to get in rhythm. Lopez should have a slight edge to snap his two match losing streak and reach round 2 on this fast surface. Lopez is a two-time former finalist in Dubai.
Pospisil has lost four straight, while the qualifier Pouille has an ATP quarterfinal already this season. Pospisil should serve well, but Pouille’s forehand gives him an edge to notch an upset and reach round 2.
(5)Viktor Troicki vs. Marcos Baghdatis
The veteran Baghdatis has 3 ATP wins this season, and a 4-1 record on hard courts against Troicki. The Serbian has been off the charts recently with a 12-4 record to start the season. With Troicki in fantastic form, he should edge Baghdatis, and perhaps post another deep run at this tournament.
The Rotterdam champion Klizan is 8-1 over his last nine matches, Kyrgios comes off his first ever ATP title in Marseille, as both are in fantastic form, and unfortunately one of these players has to suffer an early exit. Kyrgios is the stronger player if he can continue his momentum.
Novak Djokovic suffered a hard court loss in 2014 to Tommy Robredo, but he hasn’t lost a match in 2016 and he’s far and above the #1 player in the world right now, especially on a fast hard court. He should beat Robredo and ease past either qualifier Mikhail Youzhny or wild card Malek Jaziri for a spot in the quarterfinals. Youzhny is on an incredible 17 match winning streak, mostly at the challenger level, and the Russian veteran has fought his way back into tour level form after previously being a top 10 player. Expect to see more from him this year. Jaziri by contrast is off to a dreadful start to the season.
Lopez/Garcia-Lopez will face wild card Yuki Bhambri or Lukas Rosol for a spot in the quarterfinals. Bhambri hasn’t won a match this season, while Rosol is on a two match losing streak. I give Rosol a slight edge over Lopez to reach the quarters, though Djokovic is unlikely to drop a set en route to the semis.
4 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, and 5 seed Viktor Troicki are two of the most in-form players thus far in 2016. They are on track for a quarterfinal meeting, presuming RBA can handle Italian veteran Simone Bolelli, and then Hyeon Chung/Andreas Seppi, and Troicki can beat Baghdatis and the Pouille/Pospisil winner. Chung could use a win over Seppi to get his season going, RBA beat Troicki in the Sofia final, and thus has the edge to reach the semis. RBA has two ATP titles, and just three losses this season.
Stan Wawrinka suffered an early exit to his friend Benoit Paire in Marseille, and he is in shaky form right now. A struggling Sergiy Stakhovsky isn’t likely to oust him in round 1 though, Wawrinka beat Stako in a third set tiebreak in Marseille last week 10-8 in the 3rd. Wawrinka’s round 2 opponent will be either Teymuraz Gabashvili or qualifier Franko Skugor. The veteran Gabashvili can peak and win big matches, but Wawrinka is a clear favorite for the quarters.
Philipp Kohlschreiber is 5-2 in recent tournaments, he’ll open with struggling wild card Marsel Ilhan (1-4 in 2016). Kohli has a clear path to the quarters if he’s not upended by young gun Borna Coric in round 2. Coric opens with Jiri Vesely. Vesely has struggled in 2016 (1-4 record), while Coric has been poor since reaching the Chennai final to start the season. Kohlschreiber’s form should allow him to reach the quarters.
Wawrinka has never played Kohlschreiber on hard courts, and he should be on upset alert in the quarters. Both players have nifty one handed backhands, and I still give Wawrinka the edge to reach the semis.
Former Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych is also a favorite for the semis. Berdych opens with Joao Sousa, who is struggling mightily as of late, and then will face Thomas Fabbiano or Leonardo Mayer, both of whom have limited weapons compared to his power hitting game. Berdych could face Nick Kyrgios, who beat him in Marseille, in the quarters, if Kyrgios beats Klizan and Mikhail Kukushkin/Denis Istomin. Istomin hasn’t won a match in 2016, while Kukushkin retired in his last match. Given the fatigue factor, I have Berdych avenging his loss to Kyrgios and reaching the semis. Berdych also beat NK this year at the AO.
The unseeded young guns Kyrgios and Coric could reach the quarterfinals or better in Dubai. Kyrgios demonstrated his full range of attacking tennis in Marseille, and clearly has the talent to compete with the best in the game on a week to week basis. Backing up that Marseille win with another big semifinal would be a huge result for him, and we’ll see if it it comes to fruition.
Djokovic d. Bautista Agut
Berdych d. Wawrinka
Djokovic has two previous wins in Dubai over RBA (3-0 h2h), even with RBA in the form of his career, the Serbian will have to beat himself to lose.
Berdych has had little success in recent years against Wawrinka, but Stan seemed off in Marseille, and I think the Czech will take advantage on a fast surface and reach the final.
Djokovic d. Berdych
Djokovic hasn’t lost to Berdych in the last three seasons, and given he beat Tomas in Doha, this result is unlikely to be different. Novak is the clear favorite to continue his winning streak this week in Dubai.