Dubai R1 previews and predictions: Federer vs. Paire, Bautista Agut vs. Khachanov

Roger Federer will be back in action for the first time since winning the Australian Open when he faces Benoit Paire on Monday in Dubai. Roberto Bautista Agut and Karen Khachanov are also part of the opening-round schedule.

(3) Roger Federer vs. Benoit Paire

In 2016, Federer missed all of February and March because of a knee injury–thus unable to be a part of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. It is undoubtedly one of Federer’s favorite tournaments, as he boasts a 47-5 lifetime record in Dubai with seven titles. Fast forward 12 months and the 35-year-old Swiss is both healthy and in outstanding form. He is coming off a title at the Australian Open, where he won a trio of five-set matches against Kei Nishikori (fourth round), Stan Wawrinka (semifinals), and Rafael Nadal (final).

Up first for Federer on Monday is a fourth career meeting with Paire, who is 0-3 in the head-to-head series. The Frenchman fell 6-2, 6-2 on the indoor hard courts of Basel in 2012, 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 one season later at the Aussie Open, and 7-6(5), 6-4 at the 2013 Rome Masters. Paire has already played six events in 2017 and has a decent eight victories to his credit, with semifinal performances in Chennai and Montpellier. The world No. 41 is coming off an opening loss this past week in Marseille to Daniil Medvedev in a third-set tiebreaker. Based on Paire’s futile history in this matchup and Federer’s incredible record in Dubai, this one should be extremely straightforward.

Pick: Federer in 2 losing 5-7 games

(6) Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Karen Khachanov

Bautista Agut and Khachanov will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers when they collide again on Monday. Their only previous encounter came last spring on the red clay of Barcelona, where Khachanov pulled off a 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3 upset. The Russian is already up to No. 48 in the world at 20 years old, but he is a horrendous 2-7 during what is basically a “sophomore” season for him. He has lost five matches in a row dating back to the second round of the Australian Open.

The story is a much different one for Bautista Agut, who generally starts seasons in fine form coming out of the gates. This year is no exception, as the 15th-ranked Spaniard lifted the winner’s trophy in Chennai, reached the fourth round in Melbourne, won two Davis Cup singles rubbers for Spain against Croatia, and is coming off a semifinal showing in Sofia (lost to David Goffin in a third-set tiebreaker). Current form and Bautista Agut’s desire for revenge dictate that the favorite should cruise past Khachanov.

Pick: Bautista Agut in 2

6 Comments on Dubai R1 previews and predictions: Federer vs. Paire, Bautista Agut vs. Khachanov

  1. Fed in two losing 5-7 games maybe 8-10 if he’s rusty or the good Paire shows up and RBA over Khachanov in straights

  2. Monfils is battling an Egyptian WC called Safwat. He is going with serve in the 1st set with Monfils leading 5:4.

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