With the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships set to start in less than a week, here are eight predictions for the men’s side of the draw.
1. Better than Acapulco
While many top players have opted to play in Acapulco rather than at Dubai, I believe the latter will still be the better tournament. Dubai has always been praised by the players, and it has provided some entertaining tennis throughout the years, allowing for more attacking tennis, and therefore quicker points and entertaining rallies. Acapulco does not normally attract the sort of talent it has this year, and there is no doubt that it will be an entertaining tournament as well.
2. Pretty Straightforward
I don’t expect there to be very many upsets. The top of the field has been playing very well lately, and barring a couple of minimal upsets, I expect everything to go according to plan. Federer and Murray should meet up in the semifinal, with the rest of the top seeds not far behind. Tennis is mostly a mental game, however, and you can never be sure what to expect.
3. Another Entertaining Round of Tennis
Dubai has been praised as one of the best ATP 500 events on the tour, winning seven of the last nine ATP World Tour 500 Tournament of the Year awards, only recently being usurped by Queen’s Club, one of the two tournaments prior to Wimbledon. The competition is great, and the atmosphere is loved by the players. Look for some entertaining tennis along the way. This tournament should be a good one.
4. Monfils Strikes out Early
Monfils, known for his acrobatic shots and athleticism, has not quite lived up to the potential. He is similar to Nick Kyrigos, only less hot-headed and lackadaisical. Coming in as the fourth seed will certainly help boost the Frenchman’s confidence, but Monfils is not the most consistent, and he does not always perform as well as he should. Look for a lower seed, maybe crafty Dustin Brown, to upset Monfils and make a surprise quarterfinal run.
5. Berdych Makes a Deep Run
Berdych has always played well here in Dubai, and the fast courts are perfect for his power baseline gaming and booming serve. If he makes it to the quarterfinals along with Wawrinka, it will be an entertaining matchup for sure, one that will be a toss-up between two incredible players.
6. All-Swiss Matchup No. 2
Wawrinka and Federer are my picks for the final, setting up the second meeting is as many tournaments. Both are playing excellent tennis, and a repeat of the Australian Open semifinal is certainly a possibility. Wawrinka is the defending champion, and I expect him to continue that great run with another one here at Dubai. Can Federer and Wawrinka make it two out of two? It waits to be seen.
7. Murray Rebounds From Aussie Open
Andy Murray will rebound from an underwhelming performance at his first Grand Slam as number one in the world. I expect a semifinal at the very least. Murray has never won the tournament, and he’ll be hungry for the title. The number one player struggled against Mischa Zverev’s serve and volley tactics, and I believe a loss to Federer in the semifinal could be in store for the Scotsman. The courts are fast, and that does not suit Murray’s game, but I believe the Scotsman has enough talent to overcome the courts and go to his second ever Dubai final.
8. Federer Grabs His Eighth in Dubai
While this might seem slightly difficult, I believe Federer will capitalize on his Australian Open victory and bring home an eighth Dubai trophy. Federer is familiar with the courts, and they are fast, something that Federer needs to beat more defensive minded players like Djokovic and Murray. As John McEnroe said, “When there is speed, there is hope.” If Federer can get into a groove early on into the tournament, I have no doubt that he can beat anyone on the Dubai hard courts.
With a win, Federer would jump up two spots, something that would be a great help when he is seeded for Indian Wells, Miami, and eventually Wimbledon, where he’ll look to grab his eighth title in London. Federer has practically zero points to defend for the rest of the year, barring the Wimbledon semifinal, and some good performances in the upcoming events could see his ranking skyrocket.