Novak Djokovic attempts to reclaim the title he last won in 2013 at the head of a field which includes Stefanos Tsitsipas, Gael Monfils and Andrey Rublev: We break down the 2020 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships draw.
ATP Dubai Championships tennis is live from 24-29 February with play starting around 10.30am local/6.30am GMT
ATP Dubai International fast facts:
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Venue: Aviation Club Tennis Centre
Surface: Hard (outdoors)
Category: ATP 500
Financial commitment: $2,887,895
Defending champion: Roger Federer
Projected quarterfinal: Novak Djokovic (1) vs Karen Khachanov (7) (2-1)
Djokovic sat out the entirety of February in 2019, but sub-par results at Indian Wells and Miami have convinced him to alter his approach for 2020 and he returns to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships to head the field.
The world no. 1 won four Dubai titles between 2009 and 2013 and reached the final in 2015, losing to Roger Federer, but his only subsequent appearance saw him retire in the 2016 quarterfinals.
Currently 13-0 in 2020 after winning the ATP Cup and the Australian Open, Djokovic is the overwhelming favourite and the draw has done little to change that. The only question mark for Djokovic is Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round – the German scored a shock win over him at Indian Wells last year – but Kohlschreiber is more or less on his last legs. As for quarterfinal opponent Karen Khachanov, he did score a win over Djokovic at the Paris Masters but would be unlikely to do so again in these conditions even if he does get past Mikhail Kukushkin in the first round.
Semifinalist: Djokovic (4/6 @ Paddy Power to win the title)
Projected quarterfinal: Gael Monfils (3) vs Benoit Paire (8) (1-1)
Currently 13-2 in 2020, will Gael Monfils’s nine-match winning streak survive the transition from the indoor hard courts of Montpellier and Rotterdam to the outdoor hard courts of Dubai, where he has made the quarterfinals and semifinals on his last two appearances?
Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics could be a challenge for Monfils in the first round, but it’s a much better draw than Benoit Paire’s – he has to take on Marin Cilic, who is not at his best after a torrid 2019 season but is showing signs of recovery and should be able to take out the eighth seed, condemning Paire to his third consecutive first-round exit from Dubai.
The winner of that one should face Richard Gasquet. Cilic should be able to come through, but he has an 0-4 record against Monfils.
Semifinalist: Monfils (9/1 @ Paddy Power to win the tournament)
Projected quarterfinal: Andrey Rublev (6) vs Fabio Fognini (4) (1-4)
Andrey Rublev, like Gael Monfils, is 13-2 in 2020 with two titles to his name, having triumphed in Doha and Adelaide and won his first 11 matches of the year before losing to Alexander Zverev at the Australian Open.
Rublev looks set for a tremendous season, but he did lose in the quarterfinals of Rotterdam to Filip Krajinovic; the Serb is not quite as good on outdoor hard courts, but the two could be set for a rematch in the second round if Rublev beats a qualifier and Krajinovic, Joao Sousa.
Fabio Fognini has been struggling with injury and could be an early casualty on his Dubai debut, with Dan Evans facing him in the first round. Yoshihito Nishioka or Pierre-Hugues Herbert await in the second round – any of them could make the quarterfinals but the semifinalist should be the winner of the Rublev-Krajinovic clash.
Semifinal: Rublev (16/1 @ Paddy Power to win the tournament)
Projected quarterfinal: Roberto Bautista Agut (5) vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (2) (0-1)
Last year’s finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas has just revived after a not-great January with a run to the final of Marseille, where he is the defending champion, but will have to make a tight turnaround to very different conditions in Dubai (although it did not bother him last year).
Tsitsipas has a potentially challenging first-round opponent in Pablo Carreno Busta, however, with the Spaniard playing some good tennis in 2020 so far. Tsitsipas won their only previous encounter but Carreno Busta will not be any kind of a pushover. Nor will either of the big-serving men awaiting in the second round: Hubert Hurkacz, who narrowly lost to Tsitsipas in last year’s Dubai quarterfinals, or Alexander Bublik, a semifinalist in Marseille this week.
It’s not an easy draw for 2018 Dubai champion Roberto Bautista Agut either: He opens against big-serving German Jan-Lennard Struff and could face Nikoloz Basilashvili, who has won three ATP Tour 500 titles in his career, although he is 2-4 in 2020 so far.
Semifinalist: Bautista Agut (20/1 @ Paddy Power to win the title)
Djokovic d. Monfils
Rublev d. Bautista Agut
Djokovic d. Rublev