Hey all, we're finally edging closer to seeing Federer back in action again as the draw for the 2013 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships came out today with wild card Malek Jaziri getting a dream draw against Roger in the first round.
There's quite a few big names in the draw with Djokovic, Berdych, Del Potro and Tsonga all turning up to play at the Dubai Tennis Stadium. The only noticeable absentees are last years losing finalist Andy Murray who's probably trying to stay fresh for the American Hard Court tournaments and David Ferrer who I'm guessing will be playing in Acapulco instead.
Anyway, over to Federer's draw which is pretty much as I expected – a nice starter match and then a potentially tough Semi Final and Final should he make it. For some reason a lot of Fed fans seem to moan whatever happens in the draw these days but honestly there is no such thing as a tough draw in an ATP Masters 500 tournament, they're always going to be similar to the one Roger got today, it's only a week long tournament that's over before you know it. No way you can get a complete cake walk to the final in them.
In terms of Federer's project opponents they are as follows:
- 1st Round: Malek Jaziri
- 2nd Round: Albert Montanes/ Marcel Granollers
- Quarter Final: Tipsarevic/Tomic
- Semi Final: Berdych/ Tsonga
- Final: Djokovic
Obviously draws never go as expected, after all who thought Tsonga would lose in the 1st Round in Rotterdam and then Roger would clown up against Benneteau? Nobody that's for sure.
Can Federer Defend His Title?
Pfft, I'd like to give an unequivocal yes but honestly I have no idea. After crashing to Benneteau in Rotterdam it's quite hard to predict – was it a bad day? Has he got a bad back? Or both? I guess I'll have more of an idea after he's played his first round match against the Tunisian Wild Card.
One thing that doesn't work in his favour is that he probably hasn't practised once since his loss to Benneteau. After leaving Rotterdam he went straight over to South Africa to do some work his foundation so I doubt he's even picked a racket. He arrived in Dubai today I believe so he will have to make the most of it before his first match on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Luckily his first 2 matches aren't against the toughest opponents so he should be able to play himself into form if he's playing without any form of niggling injury.
Another positive is that he's joined by his family after they weren't in Rotterdam, in an interview in South Africa this week he said:
At (the) Rotterdam (tournament last week) I was by myself, and I didn't feel the same. Maybe that's one of the reasons I didn't play well, who knows? I miss them much.
So the answer is really that we'll find out after he's stepped on court for the first time.
Elsewhere in the Draw
As I said above there's some big names in the draw and Djokovic is probably favourite for the title, his draw is very comfortable and he even gets his whipping boy Viktor Troichoke in the first round:
- Round 1: Troicki
- Round 2: Goffin/ Bautista Agut
- Quarter Final: Seppi/ Lukas Rosol
- Semi Final: Del Potro/Youzhny
- Final: Federer
Both Berdych and Tsonga are in Roger's half but are scheduled to meet in the Quarter Final. That could be an interesting match if it happens and both guys are capable of beating Roger on a fast outdoor hard court so if he makes it to the Semi Final's he will have to be sharp.
Del Potro is really the only danger to Djokovic in the other half of the draw and after winning Rotterdam I thought he'd be on a hot streak but he somehow managed to lose to Simon in Marseille in straight sets. Almost as bad as Roger losing to Benneteau that one. It's actually even more annoying because it just shows the Rotterdam title was there for the taking really had Fed managed to serve better. So Del Potro is tough to predict, he could probably lose to Baghdatis in the first round.
In terms of upsets I'd pick Davydenko to beat Tipsarevic and then for him to also beat Tomic in the second round. He'd then of course play Federer so it could be interesting.
If you want to see the full draw it's available here: http://www.atpworldtour.com/posting/2013/495/mds.pdf
I'm just hoping Roger plays well and doesn't come up with a performance like he did against Benneteau. If the back was a problem then it will be interesting to see if he's recovered and whether or not the Dubai temperatures make it more manageable for him. I'll be back with a match report after he takes on Jaziri; they've never played before but Jaziri is 130 in the world and has never been past the 2nd round of a Grand Slam so I predict 6-2 6-3.
Over to you guys, is Roger winning his first title of the year here?