The Dubai Draw is out and given the somewhat unexpected results of some of the ATP tournaments the past 2 weeks I feel quite a few upsets may be on the cards; so much so that I am unsure of most of my predictions. Roger Federer, the defending champion and seeded 2 here has fellow seeds 3, 5 and 6 in his half of the draw, meaning he will have the opportunity to square off against Berdych, Tsonga or Tipsarevic respectively. Here is the draw.Before that however, Federer kicks off his Round 1 match against wildcard Malek Jaziri whom he has never faced before. Should he get through, he will face the winner of Granollers and Montanes and given Granollers’ poor form as of late, it could easily be Montanes vs. Federer in Round 2. The top half of his quarter is very interesting with Tipsarevic vs. Davydenko and Tomic vs. Hanescu. Tipsarevic has not been doing well while Davydenko has had a good start to the year so I honestly can’t call that one. In the other match, Tomic should emerge the winner if his latest form is to be believed. If so, I can see Tomic even taking out Tipsarevic or Davydenko depending on the day form of either of these veterans (especially given their Round 1 match which should be hard fought). This means I am somewhat incredulously calling Federer’s QF opponent to be Tomic but I seriously will not be surprised if it’s Tipsarevic or Davydenko as well.
If Roger can reach the SFs, he will in all likelihood face either Jo-Wilfried or Berdych. I am always wary about Berdych so in that sense I would hope he faces Tsonga but except for that blip in Rotterdam, he’s been doing well so far this year so he won’t be an easy opponent. If Roger can then reach the final he is sure to face Djokovic unless something goes horribly wrong in that half of the draw. But I don’t foresee Seppi or Youzhny (seeds 7 and 8) to cause Novak any problems at all. That leaves 4th seed Delpo but the information trickling out of the Marseille Open indicates that Delpo has suffered a thigh injury and it might not recover or hold up long enough to thwart Djokovic.
The reason why I can’t call the final (should Roger reach it) is the same reason why I am not entirely sure Roger will even reach the finals; and that’s because I have no idea what form he is in coming into this tournament. After crashing out against Benneteau in Rotterdam, there were reports that his back was acting up and if that problem is still there, then I could see him not get past the QFs just like in Rotterdam. On the other hand, a fully fit, injury-free Roger would require me to do some recalculations and if the Swiss is in top form, a successful defense is certainly possible. Furthermore, given that Novak is coming off of an extended break himself he just maybe a bit rusty (one can hope right?).
So in conclusion, I would say I actually can’t make confident picks for Roger for Dubai right now. It all depends on his health and fitness. All we know for sure is there will be some highly interesting matches in all the rounds so we’re definitely in for a week of high quality tennis. My fingers are crossed for Roger to be back in top form. It hurts to see him in pain and having obvious issues with his movement like he did in Rotterdam. So here’s hoping that the 10 day break was enough to let it subside and our Maestro will be able to play his beautiful tennis from beginning to end all the way to lifting that trophy.