With seven of the Top 10 players still alive, it’s an absolute blockbuster quarterfinal line-up in Dubai on Thursday.
With new coach Ivan Lendl stateside in Florida, Andy Murray meets big-hitting Tomas Berdych in the opening quarterfinal. Berdych leads the Scot 3-1 having won the last three meetings most recently last fall in the Paris quarterfinals.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing guys that are big hitters,” Murray said of Berdych. “That’s his game. I’ll have to try and find a way of neutralising that by getting the first hit in the rallies, using a lot variety in my game. He can make mistakes, but you need to force him into doing that. He’s not just going to give you that. If you leave the ball in the middle of the court, he hits the ball very, very well.”
Murray is 12-1 on the season losing only to Novak Djokovic in an epic 5-set Australian Open semifinal.
Four-time tournament champion Roger Federer is next up against Mikhail Youzhny in a rematch of their 2007 Dubai final. Federer has won all 11 meetings against the Russian dropping just three sets.
“He was in the Top 10, semis of the US Open, and I’ve had my fair share of tough matches with him over the years,” Federer said of playing Mikhail. “He’s very talented. He’s got one the best one handed backhands in the game and reads the plays well. He has got a good slice and has good control. In quick conditions like this, if you have good control makes it a tough opponent to play against.”
Federer has won 72 straight matches against players ranked outside of the Top 20.
In a battle of Serbs, good friends Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic tangle for a fifth time. The World No. 1 has won three of those four meetings but Tipsarevic won their most recent affair in London at the ATP Finals last November.
“[Janko’s] very solid from the baseline,” said Djokovic who is a perfect 9-0 this season. “When he has time and he steps into the court, he’s very dangerous. I need to try to be aggressive. I need to try to stay close to the line. That’s all. He doesn’t have many weaknesses in his game.”
Djokovic has won the last three titles on the slick Dubai courts and 17 straight matches overall at the tournament.
In the final match, big hitters Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Martin Del Potro clash for the last spot in the semifinals. Del Potro has beaten Tsonga in four times in five tries. The two met just last weekend in a match won by Del Potro in three sets in the semifinals of Marseille.
“I played against him last week,” said Tsonga. “I lost it. It was not easy. I played a good match, but he played well. I know tomorrow it’s going to be the same. It’s going to be difficult for sure.”
In Delray Beach, Andy Roddick will have revenge on his mind against Denis Istomin Thursday. Istomin knocked out Roddick two weeks ago in San Jose.
On the clay in Acapulco, Nicolas Almagro faces countryman Fernando Verdasco. David Ferrer is also in action.
CENTRE COURT start 2:00 pm
 A Murray (GBR) vs  T Berdych (CZE) – ATP
Not Before 5:00 PM
M Youzhny (RUS) vs  R Federer (SUI) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  J Tipsarevic (SRB) – ATP
 J Del Potro (ARG) vs  J Tsonga (FRA) – ATP
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