Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is one of two ATP 500 events taking place this week, alongside the event at Acapulco. In Dubai, Roger Federer will aim for a record-extending eighth title, while No. 1 seed Kei Nishikori makes his tournament debut seeking his second title of 2019. Roberto Bautista Agut is also back, aiming to defend his 2018 championship.
More: Dubai Men’s Draw Preview
A title for Federer this week would mark the 100th ATP Tour singles championship of his career. The Swiss superstar won the first of his seven Dubai titles in 2003; it was his sixth singles title and it came before any of his record 20 Grand Slam championships. Federer opens by meeting Philipp Kohlschreiber, against whom he has a 13-0 head-to-head record.
More: Roger Chases 100th Singles Title in Dubai
Top seed Nishikori is playing Dubai for the first time, and he comes into the event in strong form. Having lost his previous nine finals, Nishikori won his first title since 2016 by defeating Daniil Medvedev in the Brisbane final during the first week of 2019. He then made a third straight quarter-final-or-better showing at a Grand Slam event in Melbourne, and the Rotterdam semi-finals.
More: Nishikori Ready For Dubai Debut
Bautista Agut entered Dubai last year on a three-match losing streak, but the Spaniard beat Lucas Pouille in the 2018 final for the first ATP 500 title of his career. He is a superb 10-1 in 2019, winning the Doha title and making his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Melbourne.
Flashback: Bautista Agut Wins 2018 Dubai Title
No. 3 seed Marin Cilic returns to the tour for the first time since his fourth-round loss to Bautista Agut at the Australian Open. That is his lone event of the year so far: Cilic withdrew from the events in Pune and Rotterdam with knee injuries. The Croatian is back in Dubai for the first time since reaching his second of back-to-back quarter-final showings in 2010.
More: Cilic Pre-Tournament Press Conference
22-year-old Karen Khachanov and Medvedev, who just turned 23, are flying the flag for Russia in the Top 15, having won seven singles titles between them since the start of 2018. They were two of the ten men under 23 to reach the Australian Open third round, which was the most at a Grand Slam event since the same amount made that stage at 2008 Roland Garros.
In 2018, Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first Greek player to rank in the Top 20, win an ATP Tour title, and play an ATP Masters 1000 final. The 20-year-old is still on the rise in 2019, as he made his first Grand Slam semi-final in Melbourne, becoming the youngest major semi-finalist since Novak Djokovic at the 2007 US Open. He won his second title last week at Marseille.
Watch: Tsitsipas in the “Trick Shot Challenge” (above)
Tomas Berdych reached consecutive Dubai finals in 2013 and 2014, losing to Djokovic and Federer respectively. The Czech missed half of 2018 due to injuries, but has put together a great 11-4 start to 2019, making the Doha final and the Montpellier semi-finals.
Marcos Baghdatis received one of the three wild cards this week; the Cypriot was the 2016 Dubai runner-up, falling to Stan Wawrinka. The other former finalist in the field is Fernando Verdasco, who lost to then-World No. 1 Andy Murray in the 2017 championship match.
Two-time defending champions Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau go for the hat trick in the Dubai doubles draw. They are 10-2 over the last four years at the tournament. Meanwhile, No. 1 seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic seek their first match wins at the event.