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Roger Federer vs Benoit Paire ATP Dubai Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Federer makes first appearance since Australian Open success

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 26 Feb 2017
  • Roger Federer vs Benoit Paire is live from Dubai on Monday 27 February from 7:00pm local time/ 3:00pm GMT
  • Federer, making his first appearance since the Australian Open, has beaten Paire in all three previous meetings between the pair
Roger Federer has won the Dubai title seven times. (Photo by: KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)

Roger Federer returns to action for the first time since his sensational Australian Open success when he takes on Frenchman, Benoit Paire in the opening round of the Dubai Duty Free Championships on Monday.

Without a Grand Slam title in almost four years, without any form of competitive tennis for the best part of six months, with his ranking slipping to number 17 just before the start of the Australian Open, leaving him at the mercy of a perilous draw in Melbourne, and with Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray plotting a duopoly at the top of the men’s game, only the most dogmatic of Federer followers would have genuinely though Roger Federer could go all the way at the Australian Open. He couldn’t possibly win it. But he did, defying most logic to hoist a remarkable seventeenth major title when most thought his Slam-winning days were behind him.

Federer’s start in Melbourne was not the most convincing. He needed four sets to see off fellow veteran, Jurgen Melzer, he then dug out an uncomfortable three-set victory against American qualifier, Noah Rubin, but the sight of top-ten opposition in the third round awakened the beast.

After struggling through the opening two rounds, Federer was thought to be at risk against Tomas Berdych in the third round, but the great man rolled back the years to produce a master-class- dismissing his Czech opponent in straight sets.

Kei Nishikori was next to have a go at Federer, and the Japanese star threatened to obliterate the great Swiss with his baseline dynamism. Nishikori blasted his way to a 5-1 lead, but crucially, Federer did not panic, and he slowly mapped a route back into the contest. Federer lost the first set on a tie break, but he had laid down a marker for the remainder of the contest with his near comeback, and he overwhelmed Nishikori with some magic shot-making for the remainder of the match. A drop in level and concentration dragged the match into a fifth set, but Federer was ultimately far too good for Nishikori.

With that victory, and Andy Murray’s shock loss to Mischa Zverev, and Djokovic’s early exit, Federer suddenly had a clear sight at the Australian Open trophy. Zverev was never really going to beat Federer in the quarter finals, and the great Swiss duly dispatched the German veteran in straights. He needed five sets to see off Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals, setting the stage for what would become an epic final against great rival, Rafael Nadal. A see-saw battle went into a fifth set, where Nadal grabbed the early initiative, but Federer impressively plugged away with intent and aggression, unfurling some stunning strokes to wrestle the break back, before finishing off Nadal to claim the big prize.

Federer hasn’t played since his Melbourne heroics, but he makes his return at a tournament where he has enjoyed plenty of success over the years. Federer has a record seven titles in Dubai, and has been victorious on his last two visits to the city- in 2014 and 2015. He missed the 2016 edition because of a knee injury, and he opens his bid for an eighth title against Frenchman Benoit Paire. This is not an easy first round draw. Paire may be erratic, but he has also got plenty of talent.

The French man has already made two semi-finals in 2017, reaching the last four in his first tournament of the season in Chennai, and repeating the trick on the indoor hard courts of Montpellier. Paire also reached the third round of the Australian Open. He was the beneficiary of a walkover over Tommy Haas in the opening round, before taking out Fabio Fognini in five sets in the second round. Paire was stopped by Dominic Thiem in four sets in the Round of 32. However, after an encouraging start to the campaign, he has failed to cross the first hurdle in each of his last two tournaments. He lost to Marin Cilic in the opening round in Rotterdam, before losing a third set tie break to young Russian, Daniil Medvedev in his Marseille opener last week.

Federer holds a commanding 3-0 advantage over his French opponent in the head-to-head. He won the first two matches quite handily, 6-2 6-2 in Basel in 2012; and 6-2 6-4 6-1 at the Australian Open in 2013, but their most recent meeting , a Rome Masters semi-final in 2013 was a much closer 7-6 6-4 victory for Federer. The Swiss goes in a favourite to complete a fourth career victory over Paire, but his recent inactivity could make this a tricky contest. Federer has not played any tennis in a month, and that could constitute some form of rustiness. If Paire, who has been busy, if not winning a lot, over the last month gets his game together on the day, he has the tools, particularly the backhand, to hurt a potentially rusty Federer.

It may not be straightforward, but I expect Federer to have too much firepower for his French opponent in the end.

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Roger Federer vs Benoit Paire ATP Dubai Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Federer makes first appearance since Australian Open success

Roger Federer opens his Dubai campaign against Benoit Paire. Can Federer carry on his winning run from the Australian Open? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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