Dubious on Djokovic in Dubai

  • By: Tim Clement - Twitter: @SkyTimClement
  • Last Updated: February 23 2014, 18:13 GMT

Fresh from tipping 6/1 shot Ernests Gulbis to triumph in Marseille, our in-form tennis expert Tim Clement dares to take on reigning champion Novak Djokovic at the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Novak Djokovic: Looking to claim his fifth title in Dubai
Novak Djokovic: Looking to claim his fifth title in Dubai

It could be the time to oppose favourite Novak Djokovic as he looks to maintain his command over the Dubai Championships this week.

The Serb has won four of the last five editions of the 500 event but arrives without the Australian Open crown for the first time since 2010.

Djokovic was humbled by Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park and has not played a competitive match since, making it tough to gauge how he will respond.

While first few rounds should be straight forward, Roger Federer showed signs that he is capable of challenging the Serb with his resurgent performances at the Australian Open.

Given the differences in tactical match-up, I'd pay far more attention to the way the Swiss star dismissed Andy Murray than his semi-final defeat to Rafael Nadal.

Federer was able to remain aggressive and penetrate the Scot's defences and Djokovic, who likely Murray can have the tendency to start too passively, will need to be at the top of his game to avoid suffering a similar fate.

The only 2014 title winners sit in the bottom half of the draw.

Juan Martin del Potro is the second seed but has suffered some worrying loses since his Sydney triumph, losing to Roberto Bautista Agut and Ernests Gulbis either side of treatment for a wrist problem.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has reached the final in Marseille so is on good form despite losing that match to my tournament tip Ernests Gulbis. That said, I would not read too much into his results on home turf, given only four of his last nine ranking event finals have come away from France.

Tomas Berdych is my pick from the second half having ended his 16-month title drought in Rotterdam although don't go in too heavy considering his poor head-to-head record against favourite Djokovic.

However, I'm going to back a refocused Federer to build on his resurgent form Down Under by claiming a sixth title here.

With Djokovic and Federer winning nine of the last 11 instalments here, an expected semi-final meeting between those two looks destined to provide the winner.

The three-set format favours Federer's aggression and makes age a far less important factor, while the 32-year-old will be relishing the chance to boost his ranking without nemesis Nadal in attendance.

  • Preview posted at 1525 GMT on 23/02/2014.

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