If you are a tennis fan you have to excited by the lineup from the three ATP events today. The headliner is of course the Dubai final between the top two seeds Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic who will battle for a 21st time in their escalating rivalry.
I like Tom’s stat that Federer has won the last four times the two have played a three set match while Djokovic halds the edge winning their last two five-set encounters.
And even though they are in the finals, there are some question marks of form for each player. Yesterday, Djokovic admitted he didn’t play great in a three set retirement win over Tomas Berdych. A left quad injury put an end to the Czech’s hopes down 6-7(5), 6-2, 4-2.
Federer was in his own fight against “Baby Fed” Richard Gasquet. After romping through the first set the Swiss let up in the second. Gasquet served for the set at 5-3 when Richard likely realized the gravity of the situation and did his typical crumble. Federer ended up winning the last four games and 12 of the final 13 points.
So Federer, a four time Dubai champ, meets Djokovic who has won the tournament the last two years and who hasn’t dropped a match on the season.
Based on form I give the edge to Djokovic but I think Australian Open revenge will be on the mind of Federer so I’ll pick him to win it. Fed’s also 3-2 against Novak in finals and the Serb did play play worse that Roger yesterday. Remember how well Novak was playing in Australia? He’s hasn’t replicated that form this week in Dubai.
That said, should Novak win it would be a monster statement win and verify that Novak’s become the better player between the two.
Said Djokovic, “I’ve played well over the years in this centre court, especially in the night matches so I look forward to it. We played many times. In last four, five months, we played five matches or something. It was always very close. You know, I can expect a really good match. We know each other really well. We know each other’s game. Mostly in last three, four years we had matches in semis or finals. It’s always high stake and big challenge. That’s what it’s all about. If you want to be the best, you have to win against the best.”
Added Federer, “He’s but been playing well. He hasn’t lost a match yet this season. Maybe a bit of an up and down perform here this last week, but he’s been playing some day matches, some night matches against some tricky opponents, and that obviously makes it harder. Berdych has been playing well lately as well. I always expected that to be a tough one.”
The match begins in about 20 minutes on the Tennis Channel.
In the Delray Beach semifinals this afternoon, youngster and former champion Kei Nishikori takes on Janko Tipsarevic at 2pm. Then in the evening at 8:45pm, Juan Martin Del Potro continues his surge up the rankings against Mardy Fish. The big Delpo is starting to really hit his stride and I think he beats Fish tonight and goes on to win this title tomorrow.
“I’m getting better match by match, especially on my serve,” said Delpo after his win over Kevin Anderson Friday night. “I feel confident because my serve and my forehand are improving.”
Fish has won two of three meetings but they were back before Delpo grew into the player that won the US Open.
“He’s a great player and we are great friends,” Delpo said of Fish. “I know he has the game to beat me, but if I play like today, I will have the chance to beat him.”
Tennis Channel will have coverage of both semifinals.
On the clay in Acapulco tonight, the final is set between the hot Nicolas Alamgro and his Spanish countryman David Ferrer. Almagro has won two straight Latin American titles and 13 consecutive matches. Ferrer is the defending champion of the event.
“I am very happy to be in my third consecutive final and to be again in the final here in Acapulco,” Almagro said. “It’s been an incredible South American swing for me and I hope I can finish brilliantly tomorrow. A final is not a match you go out to play, it’s a match you go out to win.”
In this one I’ll give the edge to the hot guy Almagro who’s never beaten Ferrer in five tries. It’s a crazy pick I know!
Again, this match is also schedule on the Tennis Channel!
DUBAI SATURDAY SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT start 5:00 pm
S Stakhovsky (UKR) / M Youzhny (RUS) vs J Chardy (FRA) / F Lopez (ESP)
Not Before 7:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs  N Djokovic (SRB)
SATURDAY DELRAY BEACH SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 12:00 noon
C Kas (GER) / A Peya (AUT) vs F Ferreiro (BRA) / A Sa (BRA)
Not Before 2:00 PM
 J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs K Nishikori (JPN)
 E Butorac (USA) / J Rojer (AHO) vs S Lipsky (USA) / R Ram (USA)
Not Before 8:45 PM
J Del Potro (ARG) vs  M Fish (USA)
SATURDAY ACAPULCO SCHEDULE
ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, 26 FEBRUARY, 2011
CANCHA CENTRAL start 4:30 pm
V Hanescu (ROU) / H Tecau (ROU) vs  M Melo (BRA) / B Soares (BRA) – ATP – DOUBLES FINAL
Not Before 6:30 PM
 G Dulko (ARG) vs  A Parra Santonja (ESP) – WTA – SINGLES FINAL
Not Before 9:00 PM
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs  N Almagro (ESP) – ATP – SINGLES FINAL
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