Hey guys, it's been a while and it certainly feels like a lifetime since Roger last took the court but the good news is the Dubai draw is out and we'll be seeing the Swiss in action sometime next week.
It's a strong field with Djokovic, Berdych, Del Potro and Tsonga all in the mix so there's a boat load of exciting matches on the cards should all of them progress to the later rounds. In terms of the court speed and how it plays it's one of my favourite tournaments to watch as the ball can really fly out there so it's usually first strike tennis that pays off which makes it so much for fun to watch.
Since this is Roger's first tournament after his loss to Nadal at the Australian Open I'm expecting some rust but I'm feeling pretty optimistic about his chances. He showed some good signs in Melbourne so I'm confident he can do well here in what is virtually his second home town tournament.
Federer's Projected Opponents
- Round 1: Benjamin Becker
- Round 2: Radek Stepanek
- Quarter Final: Daniel Brands / Dimitry Tursunov / Lukas Rosol
- Semi Final: Novak Djokovic
- Final: Tomas Berdych / Juan Martin Del Potro
Thoughts on the Draw
For Roger I think this draw is a great one, he gets to face a solid opponent in Becker first up, then should have a fairly nice time against Stepanek before likely facing either Brands, Tursunov or Rosol. All 3 of those guys should be suited to this quick court as they have big games; that definitely means there's a fun match on the cards should he make the Quarters.
The semis is of course where it would get interesting should Roger make it as he'd face off against Djokovic. Both Roger and Novak have dominated in Dubai over the last 10 years and the Serb is trying to equal Roger's 5 titles by winning it. These 2 only met twice in 2013 right at the end of the season so I'm really looking forward to seeing how they match up on a quick court when they are both fresh and healthy.
As for Djokovic he could meet Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round who beat Juan Martin del Potro at the Australian Open so that won't be the easiest encounter as he can rip his groundstrokes.
Speaking of the Tower of Tandil, Del Potro opens up against Somdev Devvarman and he could meet last year's runner up, Berdych, in the semi-finals which would be an explosive match as the Czech will be very confident after winning Rotterdam earlier this month.
Finally James Ward has also got a wildcard probably due to helping Team GB get a Davic Cup victory over the United States, it's definitely good for him to get a match on the main tour for once although I'm not sure he can get out of the first round but we'll see.
I'm pretty confident Roger makes the semi finals here and after that it's a real coin flip. Djokovic hasn't played since losing in Australia but he's definitely going to be tough to beat and I'd imagine he's been training hard since then. The same goes for Fed too to be honest and I think he should be sharp, I believe he went straight to Dubai after the Nadal loss so he should be very used to the conditions.
There's also quite a lot to play for as he can stop Djoker equalling his Dubai title record and take down a 6th title himself which would be a fantastic achievement. I personally want to see him play like he did 2 years ago here, 2012 was a great tournament for him beating Murray in the final but 2013 ended a little disappointingly as he limped out against Berdych in the semis so I hope he can at least go one step further this time around.
In terms of pre tournament favourite I actually pick Berdych just because he's made a good start to the year and is coming in off the back of winning Rotterdam. Quick courts definitely suit his power game it's just a matter of whether if he met Djokovic in the final he could keep it together mentally. It'd be nice if Fed could play him too and get the Win against him after last years defeat. Fed vs. Berdych is also a good barometer of assessing Roger's overall level so it would give us an idea of how the season may or may not pan out.
Either way I'm excited to watch some tennis for the first time in a while and hopefully seeing Roger put in some solid performances to mount a big to break back into the top 4.
My Favourite Point from Dubai 2012
Sucks up Del Potro groundstroke bombs for fun.
What do you guys think? Any predictions or expectations for Fed?