Will Federer win a 100th career title in Dubai? (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)Roger Federer will bid to become just the second man to reach the 100-title mark in the Open Era as he joins a field in Dubai that boasts 10 top-20 players.
None of the world’s top-five, including Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, will chase the title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and Federer will view this as the perfect opportunity to join Jimmy Connors in an exclusive two-man club of triple figure title winneers.
Federer picked up title No. 99 on home soil in Basel last season and he will look to raise an eighth trophy aloft in Dubai next week.
Most ATP titles
109 – Connors99 – Federer94 – Lendl80 – Nadal77 – McEnroe74 – Laver73 – Djokovic64 – Borg64 – Sampras
Dubai touranment director Salah Talak caused a bit of a stir when he admitted his hope that the draw ‘helps’ the 20-time Grand Slam champion emerge victorious, but he shouldn’t have things all his own way courtesy of a tricky run, on paper at least.
The world No. 7 begins his quest for the remarkable milestone against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber – a player he has beaten in all 13 of their previous meetings.
Should he extend that run to 14 wins, he will likely meet Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, who faces a qualifier in round one.
Again, Federer has never lost to the Spaniard. A win against him at this event in 2015 was their most recent encounter and sixth straight victory over the world No. 26.
Milos Raonic has recorded multiple wins over Federer in the past and is a potential quarter-final opponent for the second seed, should he negotiate his way past the likes of Marton Fucsovics and Jan-Lennard Struff.
It’s tough to predict who would await him in the semi-finals.
Roger Federer’s potential route to Dubai glory
R1: KohlschreiberR2: VerdascoQF: RaonicSF: CoricF: Medvedev
Karen Khachanov is the highest-ranked player in his quarter but is on a three-match losing streak.
Roberto Bautista Agut and Tomas Berdych have both notched decent wins this season but perhaps sixth seed Borna Coric is the best bet to make it to the semis.
As for a final opponent, Stefanos Tsitsipas – who beat Federer in his last outing at the Australian Open – Marin Cilic and top Kei Nishikori are all in the top half but Russia’s Daniil Medvedev has made an electric start to the year and will fancy his chances of going all the way.