A new battle dawns

Reigning champion Roger Federer will headline the first day’s play at the ATP 500 event of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships here on Monday.

By Alex Leach

Published: Tue 26 Feb 2013, 12:53 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:56 AM

The Swiss second seed, 31, begins the defence of his crown with his first-round match against Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri in the primetime billing slot of 7pm on Centre Court.

Federer, who has won this tournament a record five times, isn’t the only seeded player to take to the main show court either. Seventh-seeded Italian Andreas Seppi will kick off proceedings at 2pm versus France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu, who boasts a 100 per cent record from three previous matches with his fellow European competitor. Seppi too also has a 2-5 win-loss record here in Dubai, having progressed beyond the first round only once in five attempts since 2006.

Two-time Dubai finalist Mikhail Youzhny then follows Seppi as he faces Slovenian Blaz Kavcic, who pushed the Russian all of the way in a gruelling five-set encounter at the Australian Open two years ago.

Then, rounding off the match action after Federer on Centre is India’s Somdev Devvarman, who entered the tournament courtesy of a protected ranking and tackles qualifier Igor Kunitsyn from Russia.

Meanwhile, the 2011 men’s singles champion and world number one Novak Djokovic gets his campaign under way in the doubles alongside his brother Marko.

They meet the experienced duo of Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko and Dick Norman, of Belgium, in a first-round clash not scheduled to take place until 4:30pm at the very earliest on Court One.

However, that tussle is subject to a ‘Possible Court Change,’ so it may move across to Centre if the Seppi and Youzhny matches are completed in sufficient time before Federer-Jaziri.

Prior to that meeting at 3pm is a head-to-head battle between two qualifiers as Frenchman Florent Serra and Germany’s Daniel Brands battle it out for a much-prized place in the next phase.

Elsewhere, talented Belgian David Goffin is set to make two appearances on Court Three, where he’ll first face Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in the singles prior to teaming up with Cyprus’ Marcos Baghdatis in the doubles.

They’ll meet the Spanish first seeds Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, but not before another singles tie between Lukas Rosol, of the Czech Republic, and qualifier Matteo Viola from Italy.


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