- Neither Novak Djokovic nor Roger Federer, who have won seven of the last 10 editions in Dubai, are on hand
- There is only one previous singles champion or finalist in the expanded singles draw of 48
- Top favorites Andrey Rublev and Dominic Thiem barely know the place; We take a look at who might take it
When you look down the list of competitors at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Championships, you can come up with a reason every single one of them won’t win the tournament.
But someone has to hold up the trophy next Saturday.
And that’s likely why Andrey Rublev, the most in-form player during this 2021 season, is the biggest pre-tournament favorite.
ATP Dubai Duty Free Championships Odds
|||Andrey Rublev (RUS)||+300|
|||Dominic Thiem (AUT)||+350|
|||Jannik Sinner (ITA)||+900|
|||Karen Khachanov (RUS)||+1200|
|||Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)||+1200|
|||David Goffin (BEL)||+1400|
|||Denis Shapovalov (CAN)||+1600|
|||Alex de Minaur (AUS)||+1600|
|||Hubert Hurkacz (POL)||+3300|
|||Daniel Evans (GBR)||+3300|
|||Borna Coric (CRO)||+3300|
|||Pablo Carreño Busta (ESP)||+3300|
|–||Kei Nishikori (JPN)||+4000|
|||Dusan Lajovic (SRB)||+4000|
|||Taylor Fritz (USA)||+4000|
|–||[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS)||+5000|
|–||*[PB] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO)||+15000|
Odds from March 13 at Bet365
(*PB = 1st-round performance bye because of his effort in winning Doha last week).
Stalwarts Federer and Djokovic No-Shows
Dubai is an extremely well-funded event. Few 500-level tournaments are able to get Djokovic or Federer – never mind both – on a regular basis. But each has played Dubai seven times since 2011.
Every single champion but one since 2011 was not only a Grand Slam champion, but a multiple Grand Slam champion.
Not this year.
Federer, who returned last week in Doha after 14 months away, opted to get back on the training court this week instead.
Andy Murray withdrew after his wife gave birth to the couple’s fourth child.
And 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka pulled the plug after the draw was made on Saturday.
Previous Dubai Duty Free Championship Winners and Finalists
|2020|| Novak Djokovic|| Stefanos Tsitsipas|
|2019|| Roger Federer|| Stefanos Tsitsipas|
|2018|| Roberto Bautista Agut|| Lucas Pouille|
|2017|| Andy Murray||Fernando Verdasco|
|2016|| Stan Wawrinka||Marcos Baghdatis|
|2015|| Roger Federer|| Novak Djokovic|
|2014|| Roger Federer|| Tomas Berdych|
|2013|| Novak Djokovic|| Tomas Berdych|
Roberto Bautista Agut the Only Former Dubai Champion or Finalist
Roberto Bautista Agut is the No. 4 seed and the only former Dubai champion or finalist in the draw.
He won in 2018. Neither Djokovic nor Federer played that year.
Is it an omen?
At +1200, the Spaniard is probably undervalued. Not only does he know how to win this title, he’s coming off a week in Doha during which he defeated Thiem in the quarterfinals, and Rublev in the semifinals.
Young Jannik Sinner, who will be making his Dubai debut and is Bautista Agut’s potential third-round opponent, has better odds (+900).
Rublev Recovered From Rotterdam
After winning Rotterdam, Rublev had an easier week than expected in Doha.
After a first-round bye, Richard Gasquet gave him a walkover. Then Marton Fucsovics (his Rotterdam final opponent) also gave him a walkover. Then he lost to Bautista Agut.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 10, 2021
Rublev did team up with countryman Aslan Karatsev to win the doubles.
All of which to say, the 2020 Dubai quarterfinalist won’t be burned out despite playing his third week in a row (singles and doubles).
His biggest obstacle is himself – he has said that the conditions simply don’t suit him there, so he’s going to have to find new ways to get through.
Very Little Dubai Experience
Like Sinner, Alex de Minaur also is making his Dubai debut. So is No. 3 seed Denis Shapovalov, who also is carrying a shoulder issue.
Top seed Thiem has played just once; he lost in the first round in 2015 to Bautista Agut. Karen Khachanov, meanwhile got past the second round last year for the first time in four trips.
At 30, David Goffin has only two first-round losses to show for his Dubai experience.
In other words, someone will win it – but none of these players has any track record to make a case for themselves.
Potential Dubai Early-Round Upsets
- Vasek Pospisil (+140) over Marton Fucsovics (-182) ( Fucsovics withdrew from Doha after two rounds last week with a sore lower back)
- Marco Cecchinato (+200) over Richard Gasquet (-275) (Gasquet has been hurt all year, and withdrew from Doha last week).
If Jan-Lennard Struff gets past a qualifier or lucky loser in the first round, he would face Shapovalov – Struff has beaten him the last four times they’ve played.
Meanwhile, Doha champion Nikoloz Basilashvili is at +15000 to take it all.
Food for thought; momentum is everything in tennis.
Best Bet: Andrey Rublev (+300)
Longer shot: Roberto Bautista Agut (+1200)