The ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships kick off with Day 1 of main draw action on Monday.
Defending champion and nine-time champion Roger Federer will not compete due to knee surgery, but there is no shortage of star power in the draw as Novak Djokovic–the four-time champion–is set to grace us with his presence.
We predict on all six Monday matches. Three are in this article, and the other three in another article.
ATP Dubai Day 1 Predictions
Andrey Rublev vs Lorenzo Musetti
Head-to-head: First meeting
Andrey Rublev has been one of the most consistent performers during this early portion of the 2020 season, and he did something that no other man in tennis had done for the last 15 years. The Russian captured back-to-back titles in Qatar and Adelaide in the opening two weeks of January, becoming the first player since Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty in 2004.
Rublev saw his 11-match winning streak come to an end at the Australian Open after he was thwarted by Germany’s Alexander Zverev in the fourth round. But the 22-year-old’s ascent is now complete. He is firmly entrenched inside the world’s top-15 and with his limitless power, he could do serious damage this week.
Rublev will have a slightly trickier opener to negotiate as he is set to meet rising Italian star Lorenzo Musetti. The 17-year-old is billed as the future of Italian tennis, along with Jannik Sinner, whose name is already a key fixture on the senior ranks. Rublev, though, is playing tennis at a different level than Musetti. If the Russian finds his range, it is difficult to foresee the Italian qualifier making any inroads.
Prediction: Rublev in 2
Lloyd Harris vs Richard Gasquet
Head-to-head: First meeting
Africa isn’t considered a top tennis continent, but it was nice to Kevin Anderson aim to put it back on the map over the last few years with some notable achievements.
Anderson’s South African counterpart Lloyd Harris is trying to follow his footsteps as he makes his mark on the senior tour. Harris, still only 21, is not too dissimilar to Anderson in terms of stature and style. He posses a potent first serve,and his forehand can be lethal. That could be bad news if you are Richard Gasquet. Granted the Frenchman is an astute defender, often taking good positions to attack off either wing, but when he is overpowered from the baseline he tends to have little room to outmaneuver his opponent. I am siding with Harris on the basis of his good start to 2020, but it is not beyond Gasquet to win here.
Prediction: Harris in 3
Gael Monfils vs Marton Fucsovics
Head-to-head: Monfils 1-0 Fucsovics
Gael Monfils is seeking a hat trick of ATP tour titles this month. Now that is a sentence I never thought I was going to write. The Frenchman’s title in Rotterdam was significant for a number of reasons. It marked the first time he had successfully defended a title in his career and it was also the first time he won more than one Tour-level trophy in a year. He also clinched the Montpellier crown in the opening week of February.
Monfils is now setting sights for an unlikely third triumph, which if it happens, will surely be the best of the lot.
The new World No.9 starts his campaign against Marton Fucsovics, a player who produced some eye-catching performances at the Australian Open. But the Hungarian will find Monfils too hot to handle in this one. With his supreme athleticism and excellent court coverage, expect the Frenchman to make his way into the second round.
Prediction: Monfils in 2
Main Photo from Getty.