ATP Dubai draw: Novak Djokovic finds out path to possible glory, Andy Murray handed tough opener
Novak Djokovic will face a qualifier or a lucky loser in his first match since winning the Australian Open while Andy Murray has not been handed the kindest of draws at the Dubai Tennis Championships.
World No 1 Djokovic is 12-0 in 2023 after winning the Adelaide International 1 and the season-opening Grand Slam at Melbourne Park with both his title wins coming despite struggling with a hamstring injury.
He has been out of action since defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open final on January 29, but the Serbian will make his comeback in Dubai next week.
The 22-time Grand Slam winner is the top seed for the ATP 500 event and headlines the top half of the draw. Should he come through his opening encounter against a qualifier or lucky loser, he will face either Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor or Frenchman Constant Lestienne in the second round.
Fifth seed Hubert Hurkacz is his projected quarter-final opponent, but the Pole has a difficult clash first up as he takes on marathon man Andy Murray – who has won four consecutive three-setters at the Qatar Open this week – in the first round.
The winner of the Hurkacz-Murray encounter will face either wildcard Alexei Popyrin or a qualifier/lucky loser in the second round before possible taking on Djokovic.
Third seed Daniil Medvedev – who is up against Murray in the Doha final on Saturday – is the projected semi-final opponent, but the Russian will likely have to get past eighth seed Borna Coric in the quarter-final.
Medvedev also faces a lucky loser or a qualifier first up while Coric has a tricky match against Great Britain’s Dan Evans with Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis possibly looming in the second round.
Defending champion Andrey Rublev leads the way in the bottom half of the draw and the second seed takes on Filip Krajinovic in the first round while he is projected to meet fellow Russian and sixth seed Karen Khachanov in the last eight.
“I feel good to be back in Dubai, it’s a great feeling, and I would love to go as far as possible,” Rublev said. “Last time I played Filip he destroyed me quite easily, I couldn’t do anything, so we will see. It will be a nice game and I hope I play better than last time.”
If the draw holds then fourth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime is expected to reach the semi-final, but the Canadian needs to get past Maxime Cressy in the opening round while he could face seventh seed Alexander Zverev in the quarter-final.
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