Dubai draw puts Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in same half

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, winners of nine of the last 11 men’s singles titles here, will not be meeting in a dream Dubai final next week after being drawn in the same half of the draw.

Federer, a five-time winner here and Djokovic, a four-time champion and the top seed, have been drawn to meet in the semis, but getting there could be a tricky route for both in a top-half that includes unseeded players like wildcard James Ward, Radek Stepanek, Lukas Rosol and Daniel Brands.

Seeded No. 4, Federer figures in the upper half of the draw and will open against a tricky opponent, Germany’s Benjamin Becker, and could find himself playing Czech veteran Stepanek in the second round. Then, he is expected to meet Russian No 8 seed Dmitry Tursunov.

The Serb defending champion starts his campaign against Uzbek Denis Istomin and could meet Spaniard Roberto Bautista-Agut, who knocked Juan Martin Del Potro out of the Australian Open last month, in the second round. Seed No 6 Mikhail Youzhny, who has reached two finals in Dubai, could be his opponent in the quarter-final.

In the bottom half of the draw, No 2 seed Juan Martin del Potro will take on Indian wildcard Somdev Devvarman in the opening round and is scheduled to face No 7 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber in the last eight.

Tomas Berdych, winner at Rotterdam last week and the No 3 seed, will meet a qualifier in the opening round and could face No 5 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-final.

“During the past 22 years of this tournament, we’ve had as many as 17 world number ones participating in our tournament,” Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman, Dubai Duty Free noted before the official draw for the men’s tournament was held at the Majlis of the Dubai Tennis Stadium, on Saturday.

“This tournament has been voted by the players as the best 500 ATP event for the past nine years and we are keeping our fingers crossed for a record tenth,” he added.

“We have two of the greatest men who have ever played the game once again competing here at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Their semi-final would be one to savour, but the field here is so strong that neither are guaranteed their place in the final four.

“Djokovic could well meet Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round, a player who produced one of the biggest upsets at the recent Australian Open when he beat our number two seed, Juan Martin del Potro, and Federer could meet the wily Radek Stepanek, who has played a pivotal role in the Czech Republic winning the Davis Cup for the past two years.”

Tournament Director Salah Tahlak announced Arab’s top player Malek Jaziri of Tunisia, Indian Devvarman and Great Britain’s James Ward as the three wild cards in the main draw of the competition.

“We look at various criteria like their rankings and how they have been playing before making a decision on the wild cards. We believe that these three players will be good for our tournament,” Tahlak said.

Now in its 22nd year, the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open has attracted five of the top ten men.
Sunday will be the final qualifying round to decide which four advance to the main draw, while the main competition will begin at 2pm on Monday.

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and operated by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament, visit or phone the call centre on +971 4 4172415.

Roger Federer's draw:

R1: Benjamin Becker
R2: Radek Stepanek / Michael Russell
QF: Lukas Rosol / Dmitry Tursunov
SF: Novak Djokovic / Mikhail Youzhny
Final: Juan Martin del Potro / Tomas Berdych / Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Date: 22nd February 2014, Source: The National and Gulf News


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