Dubai Day 2: Djokovic vs. Troicki, Del Potro vs. Baghdatis, Tipsarevic vs. Davydenko

The trio of Serbs will be in action on Tuesday in Dubai, including a first-round showdown between Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki. Another intriguing matchup pits Juan Martin Del Potro against Marcos Baghdatis.

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. Viktor Troicki

Djokovic and Troicki will be squaring off for the 14th time in their careers when the two Serbs do battle in round one of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday. The head-to-head series stands at a lopsided 12-1 in Djokovic’s favor. Troicki actually won their first career meeting back in 2007 before Djokovic went on a streak of 12 in a row. The world No. 1 has come out on top in all 10 of their hard-court encounters.

There is no reason to think anything will change this time around. Troicki endured a horrendous end to 2012 and he is just 2-4 in ATP tournaments this season. Djokovic, who won a third consecutive Australian, is a perfect 8-0 for the year. Dubai’s top seed has not played since Davis Cup in early February, but this a perfect opportunity for him to shake off any rust.

Pick: Djokovic in 2

(4) Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Marcos Baghdatis

On paper, this is the best first-round matchup of the entire week. Del Potro is a considerable favorite, but an upset is by no means out of the question. Baghdatis, who leads the head-to-head series after a victory last year in Sydney, is a respectable 8-4 for his 2013 campaign and he is coming off a quarterfinal showing in Rotterdam. Furthermore, Del Potro has played a lot of tennis this month and he lost in the Marseille quarters to Gilles Simon.

Of course, a 100 percent Del Potro (which was clearly not on display against Simon) is a different beast. The seventh-ranked Argentine captured the Rotterdam title, so it’s clear he is tough to beat when physically he is allowed to play his best tennis. Baghdatis is in with a chance thanks to his own level and because Del Potro is not enjoying peak consistency at the moment. Still, the smart money is on the No. 4 seed.

Pick: Del Potro in 3

(6) Janko Tipsarevic vs. Nikolay Davydenko

Tipsarevic and Davydenko have split four previous meetings heading into another one on Tuesday in Dubai. Davydenko won the first two back in 2007 and 2008, but Tipsarevic prevailed twice in 2011. The latest installment is a tough one to call because Tipsarevic is rusty and Davydenko is a shadow of his former self. The ninth-ranked Serb has played only two matches since retiring in the fourth round of the Australian Open and those resulted in losses to Michael Llodra (in Montpellier) and Dmitry Tursunov (last week in Marseille).

Davydenko caught fire to start the season with a runner-up finish in Doha, but it has been downhill from there for the 31-year-old Russian. He has not advanced past the second round of any other event and he is 2-4 dating back to that stage of the Aussie Open. This is a tough one to predict only because Tipsarevic is too big of a question mark right now. Count on this one going three sets with plenty of momentum shifts and sometimes puzzling tennis.

Pick: Tipsarevic in 3

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