ATP Picks: Dubai, Del Ray, Acapulco

Dubai

The lucrative tournament in the desert is headlined by Federer and Djokovic, with several big hitters from the top 10 here too. Tsonga and Berdych could meet again in the quarter finals but both have tricker paths through, while Juan ‘The Hammer’ Del Potro and Djokovic look a lock to meet in the semi finals.

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 500

Surface: Indoor Hard

Defending Champion: Roger Federer – An early loss in Rotterdam was not part of the plan so he will want to make up for that here.

Nasty Floater: Dimitry Tursunov – Back in the top 100 after a semi-final run last week. Nice to see him back.

Veteran Watch: 
Michael Llodra – Gets a potentially tired Tsonga first round and is an upset in the making.

Up and Coming: Malek Jaziri – Tunisian gets a wildcard but lands Federer first round.

Slumping: David Goffin – It’s been a rough start to the season for the Belgian and needs a win or two.

On Fire: Jo ‘Willy’ Tsonga – Won last week in a squeaker with Berdych. We’ll see if he has gas in the tank left over.

My pick: Novak Djokovic – Rested and comfortable at this tournament. A final against Federer would be nice.

Did You Know? The tournament has won the ATP World Tour 500 award eight times in nine years (2003-06, 2008-11). In 2005, two ATP World Tour Champions – Andre Agassi and Roger Federer – scaled the Burj Al Arab for a friendly practice session atop the helipad at the iconic hotel.

Watch: Djokovic vs. Berdych final 2013

Del Ray

Delray Beach welcomes back the usual crowd of US players but a must-see 250 event in my book with a loaded field. The third round looks like a Masters event by that point if all the seeds make it through.

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Outdoor Hard

Defending Champion: Kevin Anderson – Made a good start to the season and will be at the business end of the tournament no doubt.

Nasty Floater: Denis ‘The Menace’ Istomin – The Uzbek tore a hole in the Memphis draw last week and is highly dangerous.

Veteran Watch:
 James Blake –  Scored a win last week and gets another chance by virtue of a qualifier first round.

Up and Coming: Jack ‘The Jock’ Sock – Took down Raonic last week and starting to fulfil his potential. 

Slumping: Ivan Dodig – Not the player he was 2 years ago. Needs to find that form again.

On Fire: Kei Nishikori – Won Memphis last week and could go back to back.

My pick: ‘Long’ John Isner – It won’t be easy but if his serve is on, he’s my pick.

Did You Know? Delray Beach hosts the world’s only combined ATP World Tour/ATP Champions Tour event.

Watch: Del Ray Uncovered

Watch: Gulbis winning 2013 title

Acapulco

The Abierto Mexicano Telcel, one of 11 ATP World Tour 500 events, concludes the four-tournament “Golden Swing” through Latin America. The Spanish big 3 are here, which does not bode well for the others. Ferrer goes for a 4th title here, Almagro his 3rd and Nadal his 2nd.

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 500

Surface: Outdoor Clay

Defending Champion: David Ferrer – Will have to contend with Rafa this year if he is to keep the trophy but he’s in better form.

Nasty Floater: David Nalbandian – No introduction needed but finds 3 long sets tough going these days.



Veteran Watch: 
Filippo Volandri – Plays fellow vet Robredo but could be a short visit to Mexico.

Up and Coming: Andrey Kuznetzov – The only Russian in the draw and gets Bellucci, who’s out of sorts. 

Slumping: Thomaz Bellucci – Should be doing better on clay so far but not finding his range. In Nadal’s quarter too.

On Fire: Stan ‘The Man’ Wawrinka – A 3 set loss to Ferrer is not bad, but Stan can’t catch a break. Maybe this week he does.

My pick: David Ferrer – With Rafa still finding his legs, The Wall takes no mercy here.

Did You Know? In 2007, Acapulco won the ATP World Tour award for best tournament of the year in its category.

Watch: Acapulco Uncovered

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