(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Roger Federer's defence of his Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship title is potted with potential pitfalls as he plots a path through to a prospective final against world number one Novak Djokovic on Saturday night.
The 31-year-old Swiss is unlikely to encounter too many difficulties in his opening two rounds here, with Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri and either Marcel Granollers or Albert Montanes unlikely to pose a plethora of problems for the five-time Dubai champion on current form.
However, the tasks will get progressively tougher thereafter, with Nikolay Davydenko, the sixth-seeded Serbian Janko Tipsarevic or Bernard Tomic likely to represent his subsequent quarter-final opposition. Tomas Berdych or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the third and fifth seeds respectively here, could then meet Federer in the last four prior to that tantalising tussle with Djokovic at the weekend.
The world number one Serbian himself has been handed a comparatively easier draw following Saturday's main draw ceremony.
Djokovic - like Federer - shouldn't really experience an early shock when facing compatriot Victor Troicki and Roberto Bautista Agut or the talented Belgian David Goffin.
Paul Henri-Mathieu, Rafael Nadal's conqueror at Wimbledon Lukas Rosol or seventh-seeded Italian Andreas Seppi would signify something of a sterner examination of the Serb's crown credentials.
That gradual escalation in class and quality would then continue on into the semis, where Djokovic seems set to meet either Juan Martin del Potro or Mikhail Youzhny before hypothetically Federer in the final.
Four first-round matches not to be missed are Mathieu vs Seppi, Del Potro vs Baghdatis, Tsonga vs Michael Llodra and Tisarevic vs Davydenko. The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Tickets are on sale from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud, which is open from 9am to 9pm daily. Grandstand ticket prices range from Dh50 for opening rounds to Dh450 for finals.
By Alex Leach