New battles as men take aim

New battles as men take aim

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will have been the happier half of the top four seeds after the draw for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships men’s singles competition was made at Dubai Tennis Stadium on Saturday afternoon.



By Alex Leach

Published: Sun 26 Feb 2012, 12:35 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 4:07 PM

Serbia’s Djokovic, as the defending champion and number one seed, was automatically positioned at the very top of the draw and he was joined in that half by third-ranked Murray, of Great Britain, meaning the pair will prospectively meet in the semi-finals here.

However, the former has been drawn against unheralded German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe in the first round, while either the Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky or Emirati wildcard Omar Awadhy represent his second-round opposition immediately thereafter.

In truth, Djokovic looks unlikely to be seriously tested until at least the quarter-finals, when he could be pitted opposite Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic or seventh-seeded compatriot Janko Tipsarevic, prior to that possible last-four clash with Murray.

The Scot himself meanwhile is in an eight-strong quarter containing no less than three qualifiers and Ukrainian wildcard Sergei Bubka, the tennis-playing son of the world-famous pole vaulter.

He could nonetheless meet the 2009 ATP World Tour Finals champion Nikolay Davydenko, who also encounters an as-yet-unknown qualifier, in the second round, whereas fifth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych might block his path through to Djokovic in the quarters.

Second-ranked Swiss Roger Federer, the world number three, is at the opposite end of the spectrum to Djokovic. He encounters tricky Frenchman Michael Llodra first up before a second-round tussle with either a two-time finalist in Spaniard Feliciano Lopez or marathon-match man Nicolas Mahut, of France. Federer then seems set to meet either sixth-seeded American Mardy Fish – surprisingly, a Dubai debutant in the field – Richard Gasquet, of France, or Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny in the last eight.

His likely semi-final opponent could either be fourth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or eighth-ranked Argentine Juan Martin del Potro.

But, both men will need to navigate a way past difficult first-round challenges, with the Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov challenging ‘Delpo’ and Tsonga running into Cyprus’ Marcos Baghdatis initially.

That quarter also contains Novak Djokovic’s young brother, Marko, who has been given one of three wildcards and meets the only other qualifier not in Murray’s section.

The lower half of the draw contains the three ties of the first round, namely Del Potro vs Dolgopolov, Baghdatis vs Tsonga and Youzhny vs Gasquet.

Djokovic is aiming for a historic fourth title in a row at the Aviation Club having won the championship trophy in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Dubai resident and four-time winner Federer is also targeting a record fifth crown after singles successes in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007. The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Tickets for this Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) 500 event are available from the box office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Al Garhoud, which opens from 9am to 9pm daily.

Grandstand tickets can also be bought online at: www.timeouttickets.com. For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament, readers can visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com or phone the call centre on: +971 4 358 9797.

alex@khaleejtimes.com


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