Andrey Rublev is chasing his fifth straight ATP 500 title next week, but he will need his best level from the early rounds to navigate an in-form section of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships draw.
The eight-time ATP Tour titlist, who has not lost an ATP 500 match since his appearance at this event last year, shares the bottom section of the draw with two players who brought their best level this week at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha: Nikoloz Basilashvili and Taylor Fritz.
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Rublev will face Australia’s Jordan Thompson or a qualifier in his first match of the tournament. If the Russian wins that match, he will meet the winner of Basilashvili and Fritz’s second-round clash. Basilashvili defeated Fritz on Friday to reach the Doha championship match.
Rublev is joined in the bottom quarter of the draw by sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta and 11th seed Dusan Lajovic. Former champion Roberto Bautista Agut (2018), 2020 semi-finalist Daniel Evans and #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner also feature in the bottom half.
Dominic Thiem leads the way in Dubai as the top seed. The reigning US Open champion, who will face a qualifier or lucky loser in the second round, is joined by David Goffin, Borna Coric and Filip Krajinovic in the top quarter. Goffin awaits the winner of one of the standout first-round matches between Kei Nishikori and Reilly Opelka.
Third seed Denis Shapovalov and eighth seed Karen Khachanov are the top two seeds in the second quarter. The 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifiers share that section with the first two players to collect tour-level trophies this season: Alex de Minaur (Antalya) and Hubert Hurkacz (Delray Beach).