There will be no Roger Federer, so Grigor Dimitrov has been thrust into the favourite’s role at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships – live on Sky Sports.
Federer swatted aside Dimitrov in the final of the ABN AMRO World Tournament in Rotterdam to celebrate his return to the top of the world rankings last weekend, so it came as little surprise to many when the Swiss great opted against a wildcard invitation to Dubai.
Federer, a seven-time winner of the tournament, will not feature in the United Arab Emirates and will instead attend the Laureus awards ceremony in Monte Carlo before heading to America to begin preparation for title defences at the Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami.
“I believe whatever’s good for him is good for us. You can’t really push him more,” said Dubai tournament director Salah Tahlak. “Had he not won in Rotterdam he would have definitely come here. I really respect him, as a professional and as an athlete.
“He’s so classy and has done well for the game, has done well for Dubai. He’s a legend.”
It means Dimitrov will take over as top seed at the Aviation Club with Frenchman Lucas Pouille now seeded second ahead of Robert Bautista Agut, Damir Dzumhur, and Richard Gasquet.
Dimitrov admitted to playing in Rotterdam while ill, but has had a week to recover and is now fully prepared for a tricky opening test against Tunisian wild card Melek Jaziri, who was a quarter-finalist here in 2014 and in 2016.
“The good thing in tennis – there’s always the next week,” the fourth-ranked Bulgarian said. “You pretty much can play every week that you want. There’s always that silver lining.”
Andy Murray won in Dubai last year, and his quarter-final against Philipp Kohlschreiber was a classic…
We’re covering the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and ATP 500 Acapulco on www.skysports.com/tennis with news, previews, live blogs, reports and expert analysis.
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February 26, 2018, 10:00am
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