With current World No. 1 Rafael Nadal not back in action until the end of the month in Acapulco, the road is clear for Federer to make a dash to reclaim the World No. 1 spot. The now 20-time Slam champion has cannily accepted a wildcard into the event, and could over-take Nadal if he reaches at least the semi-finals.
However despite starting his campaign against a qualifier, he could have to get past compatriot Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-final to get there. Before that he will face the winner of Philipp Kohlschreiber and Karen Khachanov – he has winning records over both – and indeed the German has never got a win over Federer in 12 attempts.
Wawrinka’s wins over his fellow countryman have only come on the clay so the signs look good, depending on how rusty he feels since leaving Melbourne with more silverware.
Dimtrov makes his comeback to the tour after falling in the quarter-finals to Kyle Edmund. Much was expected of the Bulgarian, who was looking to capitalise on his momentum from the end of last year where he won the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals.
He ought to face Lucas Pouille in the quarter-finals and he has winning records over his first and potential second round opponents, not to mention leading the Frenchman 2-0 in their head to head.
While he has a great record over potential semi-finalist David Goffin, if a somewhat resurgent Tomas Berdych makes it to the final four, it could be a bit tighter with their wins split down the middle.
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The German must still be smarting from his loss (and complete capitulation at the end) to Hyeon Chung, and even more worrying, he still cannot get it together then it comes to the Slams and best of five. Here though things are a little more comfortable for him – except he opens against the dogged David Ferrer who can drag anyone to their knee stumps when he has his day.
Waiting in his side of the draw is also defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – his confidence will be high after a deep run in Montpellier.
Last year’s beaten finalist at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals might have had a disappointing second round exit, but buoyed by a couple of wins at David Cup, and a solid run in Montpellier is another one to watch this week.
He is set to face Berdych in the quarter-finals – having snapped a two-match losing streak against the Czech, albeit on the clay. You might have to give the edge to the Czech on an indoor hard court this time around.
The ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament takes place between 12-18 February.
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