Dubai Day 3: Federer vs. Granollers, Del Potro vs. Devvarman, Youzhny vs. Brands

Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro are part of a loaded schedule on Wednesday in Dubai. Mikhail Youzhny, meanwhile, could face a tough test against Daniel Brands.

Marcel Granollers vs. (2) Roger Federer

Federer and Granollers will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers when they clash in round two of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday. Interestingly, their only previous encounter came at this exact same stage of the same event. Federer cruised through a 2011 meeting 6-3, 6-4.

The second-ranked Swiss got off to a slow start on Monday, but he recovered to beat Malek Jaziri 5-7, 6-0, 6-2. Granollers destroyed Albert Montanes 6-3, 6-1 to improve his season record to 5-5. The Spaniard is no pushover, but this court is playing too fast and Federer generally heats up as tournaments progress from start to finish. Nothing bodes well for Granollers in this one.

Pick: Federer in 2

(4) Juan Martin Del Potro vs. (PR) Somdev Devvarman

Del Potro knows a thing or two about coming back from injury, and now it is Devvarman who is attempting the feat. The Indian saw almost his entire 2012 campaign wrecked by shoulder surgery, but he is bouncing back in style. Devvarman, up to No. 315 in the world (yes, that is marked improvement!), is 5-4 at the ATP level this year after taking care of Igor Kunitsyn 6-1, 6-4 on Monday.

Speaking of physical problems, Del Potro has been struggling just a bit since winning the Rotterdam title. Additional left-wrist issues contributed to his Marseille quarterfinal loss at the hands of Gilles Simon and Del Potro was not 100 percent in a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over Marcos Baghdatis on Tuesday (in which the No. 4 seed saved three match points). This is going to catch up with the seventh-ranked Argentine sooner rather than later in Dubai, but on a fast hard court, he should be able to dictate against Devvarman with a diet consisting exclusively of serves and forehands.

Pick: Del Potro in 2

(Q) Daniel Brands vs. (8) Mikhail Youzhny

Brands and Youzhny will be squaring off for the third time in their careers on Wednesday, but they have not faced each other since 2010. Youzhny won their first affair 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on the clay courts of Munich in 2009 before rolling 6-4, 6-1 one season later on the indoor hard courts of St. Petersburg.

Now, however, Brands is playing the best tennis of his career. The 97th-ranked German, who qualified for the main draw, is 5-3 at the ATP  level in 2013 after dismissing Florent Serra 7-6(7), 6-4 in round one. Youzhny is slowing down somewhat at 30 years old and he finds himself down at No. 31 in the world. The Russian overcame Blaz Kavcic 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 in his opener. Look for Brands to ride his power game and his confidence to an upset win.

Pick: Brands in 3


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