Six out of the eight seeded players have progressed into the second round of the 32 player Dubai Dutyfree ATP 500 event. All the top four seeds had easy first round wins as 4 time champion Novak Djokovic, 6 time champion Roger Federer, 2012 runner up Andy Murray and the last two years runner up Tomas Berdych needed just two sets. Also advancing were the 2004 & 2008 runner up Feliciano Lopez ( no 6 seed) and Roberto Bautista Agut ( no 7 seed) both from Spain. The only seeds to fall were the out of form Ernest Gulbis of Latvia who could not stop his miserable start to the year as he fell to the lanky Dennis Istomin of Uzbekistan and the Belgian David Goffin who once again came up short against the 2006 Australian Open runner up Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus. While the no. 5 seed Gulbis who is winless in 2015 with five losses; the no. 8 seeded Goffin lost to his flamboyant opponent who had also beaten him at the Australian Open last month. Baghdatis gained entry into the tournament as a wild card.
The line up for the round of sixteen with my picks named first is as under:
Novak Djokovic v. Andrey Golubev
Feliciano Lopez v. Marcel Ilhan
Tomas Berdych v. Simone Bolleli
Dennis Istomin v. Sergiy Stakhovsky
Marcos Baghdatis v. Borna Coric
Andy Murray v. Joao Souza
Richard Gasquet v. Roberto Bautista Agut
Roger Federer v. Fernando Verdasco
In what was the best match of the first round Frenchman Richard Gasquet showed signs of a welcome return to form as he outlasted the Italian Andreas Seppi in three sets which prevents a rematch of the round of 32 match between Federer and Seppi at last months Australian Open which the latter won in four sets. He now takes on the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.
Roger Federer began his quest for a seventh Dubai title with a 6-3, 6-1 win over the veteran Russian Mikhail Youzhny, runner up in 2007 & 2010 has now lost all sixteen career matches to the number two seed. The Swiss superstar has already been a 7 time winner at Wimbledon and warm up event leading upto Wimbledon in Halle; both played on grass. He next plays the left hander Fernando Verdasco who prevailed against fellow Spaniard Guillermo Garcia Lopez the winner of the Zagreb ATP 250 event played the week after the Australian Open.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]