Djokovic to face Robredo in first round in Dubai

Djokovic to face Robredo in first round in Dubai

Dubai - India's Bhambri gets wildcard; Bhupathi to partner Qureshi in doubles.

By Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Sun 21 Feb 2016, 7:22 PM

Last updated: Mon 22 Feb 2016, 8:19 AM

Arguably the greatest player of all time will face a great test in the first round of the men's event of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Novak Djokovic is on a roll and Rafael Nadal -- no mug with a racquet either -- recently said he has never seen anybody as good as the Serb in tennis.

But it will be interesting to see how the world number one starts three weeks after his Australian Open triumph, his fourth win in last five slams, against a player as tricky as Tommy Robredo.

The veteran Spaniard will be the first round opponent for Djokovic in Dubai where the 11-time Grand Slam winner has won four titles.

Meanwhile, second seed Stanislas Wawrinka who lost in the quarterfinal in Marseille on Friday, will take on Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine in the first round.

Third seed Tomas Berdych, a beaten finalist here in 2013 and 2014, will begin his campaign against Portuguese Joao Sousa while fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain will play Simone Bolelli.

But the most exciting first round game will be between seventh seed Martin Klizan of Slovakia and mercurial Aussie Nick Kyrgios.

"There are some very interesting first round matches to enjoy, with Novak Djokovic facing Tommy Robredo and two very much in-form players, Martin Klizan and Nick Kyrgios, meeting in what is certain to be a tremendously competitive battle," said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, organizers of the tournament.

"Tomas Berdych will be making a strong bid for the title yet again and it will be interesting to see if he can finally succeed, and Stan Wawrinka brings his own brand of excitement that has earned him two Grand Slam titles."

This year the organisers have given wild cards to India's Yuki Bhambri (world number 99), Marsel Ilhan (world number 112) of Turkey and Tunisian Malek Jaziri (world number 123).

"Wild cards have been given to MarselIlhan from Turkey, Tunisia's Malek Jaziri and Yuki Bhambri from India, and we look forward to seeing them perform against what will be formidable opposition," said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak.

"We saw during the WTA event that no player, no matter what their standing, can be certain of victory, and we look forward to seeing how the week unfolds."

Bhambri will bank on the support of his Indian fans in Dubai when he takes on Lukas Rosol -- that hard-hitting player from the Czech Republic who became famous after beating Nadal in the 2012 Wimbledon second round.

Serbian number two Viktor Troicki, whose impressive form in recent times has given him a title in Sydney and a runner-up trophy in Sofia, will have the unenviable task of beating the flamboyant Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in the first round.

German number one Philipp Kohlschreiber has the luck of draw as he will get to face  wildcard MarselIlhan in the first round.

Unlike the women's event that saw the fall of all eight seeds before the tournament reached the quarterfinal stage, the men's competition is likely to see Djokovic- Roberto-Bautista Agut and Wawrinka-Berdych semifinals.

Unless, of course, the lower ranked players match the ladies in Dubai!

Meanwhile, the main attraction in doubles will be India's Mahesh Bhupathi and Pakistan's Aisam-ul Qureshi.

These two popular doubles specialists from the sub-continent have joined hands for the Dubai tournament and they have been given wild cards by the organisers.

They will take on the Italian team of Simone Bolelli and Andreas Seppi in the first round.

India's Rohan Bopanna and his Romanian partner Florin Rou Mergea have been seeded second and they will play Daniel Nestor of Canada and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in the first round.

Top seeds Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands and Horia Tecau of Romania will face Spanish Guillermo Garcia Lopez and Serbian Viktor Troicki in the first round.

More news from Sports