Roger Federer is the strong favourite for the 2019 Dubai Tennis Championships, a tournament he has won seven times over his incredible career.
The former world number one is not the top seed for this week’s competition, however. That honour instead goes to Kei Nishikori of Japan, but there is no doubt Federer is still the man to beat.
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A price of 2/1 reflects the fact Federer has been dominant in Dubai in the past and is expected to do so again, with Nishikori a distant second-favourite according to the biggest tennis betting sites.
But it is certainly not a foregone conclusion that Federer is lifting the trophy at the end of the week’s action once more. Stefanos Tsitsipas, the in-form Greek rising star, will be one of the players hoping to cause a big upset while there are plenty of other star names in the draw.
Third seed Marin Cilic is always a threat if he produces his best tennis while improving Russian players such as Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev will be worth watching too.
Federer’s position as the clear favourite to win the Dubai Tennis Championships skews the betting market for this event somewhat, so let’s see if we can pick out some value selections.
Raonic Blocking Federer Path to Glory
Should Federer collect his eighth Dubai Tennis Championships title, he will likely have to beat Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals as the two players are placed in the same section of the draw.
Federer’s form is hard to ascertain as this will be his first return to the court since the Australian Open, where he suffered that famous shock defeat to Tsitsipas.
Philipp Kohlschreiber should not provide a daunting test in the opening round and Federer should not have too many difficulties when he takes on Fernando Verdasco in the next game.
After that, though, the draw suggests Raonic will be the next man in the way of Federer’s attempts to win his first title of the year. Federer has a brilliant overall record in Dubai but his last visit to the tournament, in 2017, saw him dumped out in the second round by Evgeny Donskoy.
Raonic is still trying to balance his return from long-standing injury issues, but there were promising signs he could get back to his best in a strong run at Melbourne Park last month.
Federer really ought to get through to at least the semi-finals and it would be a shock if he was not in the final next weekend. That said, a price as short as 2/1 on a man who looks like he is finally starting to feel his age will be too low for a lot of tennis fans to be interested in taking.
Tsitsipas the Man in Form
At 10/1, Stefanos Tsitsipas is a very tempting option for the Dubai title although the Greek is in the same quarter of the draw as top seed Nishikori.
Tsitsipas claimed the Open 13 Provence title in Marseille at the weekend, beating Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan in straight sets and he is now closing in on a place in the top 10 of the world rankings. Another strong performance in Dubai would confirm his growing reputation as one of the very best young players on the ATP tour right now.
That said, winning back-to-back titles is easier said than done and producing consistency is always likely to be a challenge for a 20-year-old who is still finding his feet in the sport. Matthew Ebden is the player Tsitsipas will face in the first round and Robin Haase, a dangerous Dutch player who got to the semi-finals of this event in 2017, could then follow.
Those matches represent a tricky test for Tsitsipas but if he comes through them his expected quarter-final with Nishikori – who can be backed at 6/1 – would be a must-watch encounter.
Monfils Flying Under the Radar
Perhaps the best first-round match in the draw sees Marin Cilic take on Gael Monfils, who won the Rotterdam title a couple weeks back and has been in great form so far this year. With Cilic still feeling his way back to full fitness, he is by no means certain of making it through to the second round even if he has the stronger pedigree of the two players.
Considering Cilic has only played a single event so far this year – he got through to the round of 16 at the Australian Open but was knocked out by Roberto Bautista Agut – his 10/1 price to win at the Dubai Tennis Championships looks to be far too short.
Monfils, though, may be of interest at around the 16/1 mark. He has a very good chance of beating Cilic and if he does so then the draw will open up nicely for the Frenchman. Eighth seed Medvedev would likely be Monfils’ opponent in the quarter-finals and the pair have already faced off twice on indoor hard courts so far this year, winning one meeting apiece.
Bautista Agut Out to Defend Title
It says a lot about the strength of the field that last year’s champion, Roberto Bautista Agut, can be backed at 14/1 to win again in Dubai. The wily Spaniard, who won in Auckland at the start of the year, is unseeded and could meet Khachanov in the second round.
Tomas Berdych – also offered at about 14/1 – is another name of interest in the third quarter. The experienced Czech player has been to the final twice in Dubai, in 2013 and 2014, when he lost to Novak Djokovic and Federer respectively.
2019 Dubai Tennis Championships Picks
Although Federer will dominate the spotlight in Dubai, it really feels as if half a dozen other players have a great chance of beating the Swiss superstar to the title.
Federer’s incredible record in this tournament demands respect but with a price of 2/1 for him to win his eighth title here – and first since 2015 – there is not a lot of value to be found. He is hunting his 100th title on the ATP tour, so if he does win, it will be a historic triumph.
Instead, the form book says 10/1 on Stefanos Tsitsipas is a very good option. Although he faces the challenge of going back-to-back after winning in Marseille, he has the momentum right now.
Bautista Agut’s 14/1 also looks too big. Khachanov is out of form and the defending champion will fancy his chances of getting through to at least the quarter-finals this week.
And last but not least, odds of around the 16/1 mark on Gael Monfils look like offering a decent each-way option. Inconsistency remains the issue with Monfils, but his talent is undoubted.