Dubai quarterfinals: Federer vs. Davydenko, Djokovic vs. Seppi, Del Potro vs. Brands

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are aiming for semifinal spots in Dubai on Thursday. Juan Martin Del Potro is also taking the court.

Nikolay Davydenko vs. (2) Roger Federer

Federer and Davydenko will be squaring off for the 21st time in their careers when the familiar foes and fellow veterans clash in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday. The head-to-head series stands at a dominant 18-2 in Federer’s favor, including 14-2 on hard courts. They most recently faced each other last month at the Australian Open, where the Swiss cruised 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

Davydenko is extremely inconsistent at 31 years old, but his up-and-down season may be on the rise again. The Doha runner-up opened in Dubai with a 6-0, 7-5 upset of Janko Tipsarevic and he dismissed Victor Hanescu 6-4, 7-6(2) on Wednesday. Federer got past Malek Jaziri 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 before picking up the pace for a 6-3, 6-4 win over Marcel Granollers. The No. 2 seed is a decent 9-2 for the year. Based on current form and past H2H history (Federer has won six in a row, including four in straight sets), you have to like the favorite’s chances.

Pick: Federer in 2

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (7) Andreas Seppi

Djokovic will look to make it a perfect 10-0 against Seppi on Thursday. They faced each other three times last season and one was a memorable encounter in which Djokovic stormed back from two sets down to prevail 4-6, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 at the French Open. Seppi got another shot at the world No. 1 in Cincinnati, but Djokovic won 7-6(4), 6-2. The Serb is 5-0 against Seppi on hard courts, with four victories coming in straight sets.

Seppi has been playing some of the best tennis of his career recently and he registers two spots off his career-high at No. 20 in the world. The Italian is 8-4 for his 2013 campaign following victories over Paul-Henri Mathieu and Lukas Rosol. Djokovic has won 15 matches in a row dating back to last season after getting the best of Viktor Troicki and Roberto Bautista-Agut–both in straights. There is no reason to think Seppi will be as competitive as he was at Roland Garros against such an in-form opponent, especially not on a fast hard court.

Pick: Djokovic in 2

(4) Juan Martin Del Potro vs. (Q) Daniel Brands

Del Potro and Brands have a history of their own, albeit a much briefer one that Federer-Davydenko and Djokovic-Seppi. In fact, they have faced each other only once…but it was a memorable one. At last year’s Vienna event, they combined for 62 aces and 15 of 15 break points saved in a 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 7-6(6) win for Del Potro.

Brands has continued to play the best tennis of his life. The 97th-ranked German has successfully qualified in all four of his 2013 tournaments and he followed up qualification in Dubai with scalps of Florent Serra and Mikhail Youzhny. Del Potro is dealing with more left-wrist issues, but he saved three match points in a first-round victory over Marcos Baghdatis and he scraped past Somdev Devvarman 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday. This would have upset potential even if the Argentine was 100 percent, so Brands is definitely in with a chance given the current circumstances.

Pick: Brands in 3

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