DUBAI, February 23, 2015
The opening day at the 23rd edition of the Duty Free Dubai Tennis Championships was highlighted by defending champion Roger Federer, who fired eight aces and didn’t have to face a break point, beating Mikhail Youzhny for a 16th time in a row in only 56 minutes 6-3, 6-1.
“I think it was close in that first set,” said Federer. “I think we were both, you know, trying to find our range. After that, I think I started to return much better. Serve got a bit more consistent. My half-volleys were getting better. I was able to get the set and the break, and then that’s when you can bring it home.”
World number one and four-time Dubai champion Novak Djokovic returned to the ATP World Tour for the first time since he claimed the crown at the Australian Open at the beginning of February. The Serb played doubles on an outside court, free of charge for all spectators, alongside his 19-year-old compatriot Laslo Djere. The pair, however, lost to the fourth-seeded tandem of Rohan Bopanna and Daniel Nestor in straight sets 2-6, 5-7.
World number 210 James McGee made his debut at this prestigious ATP 500 event entering the tournament through a wild card awarded by Dubai Duty Free. McGee took a flight out of Florida on Wednesday evening when he discovered that he will have the opportunity to practice with Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych.
“Yeah, that was brilliant,” he said. “I trained with Tomas in the morning and Andy in the afternoon. Both really nice guys. Brilliant to be playing at this level and to meet these guys. You realize they are normal lads. Sometimes you watch them on TV and they don’t look human, but they are.
The 27-year-old became the only fourth Irishman to play in an ATP World Tour main draw since 1990 but lost his encounter to Joao Sousa 1-6, 2-6 in only 64 minutes. The Portuguese will face either 2012 finalist Andy Murray or Gilles Muller in the second round.
Fabrice Martin also made an unsuccessful debut on the ATP World Tour. The 28-year-old qualifier from France lost to Andrej Golubev 5-7, 4-6 in one hour 27 minutes.
Denis Istomin gained his first victory over Ernests Gulbis in their third meeting winning 7-5, 6-2 in 93 minutes to face the winner of Sergiy Stakhovsky and Lukas Rosol next. The fifth seed from Latvia is still looking for this first victory of the season after he fell in second round in Auckland (first round bye), first round in Marseille, Melbourne and Rotterdam. “I’m not in good form right now,” said Gulbis, who was up 4-1 in the first set. “I’m not feeling my shots at all. I have no timing. In practice I have been playing worse than in the match.”
In the final match on Monday, Montpellier champion Richard Gasquet defeated Andreas Seppi for the fifth time in their sixth meeting winning 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 in two hours and 21 minutes to set a second round meeting with Roberto Bautista-Agut or Dominic Thiem.