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Novak Djokovic owns four Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships titles.

Why Djokovic's Draw Created Plenty Of Laughter In Dubai

Tsitsipas to face Carreno Busta in first round

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will face 2018 semi-finalist Malek Jaziri in the opening round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where he is making his first appearance since 2016.

The 32-year-old, who owns a 36-6 record at the ATP 500 event, is returning to action for the first time since lifting a record-extending eighth Australian Open title last month. Ironically Djokovic's last match win in Dubai came against Jaziri in the second round in 2016. 

There was plenty of laughter at the draw ceremony. Before the chips were pulled to fill out the draw, Jaziri said, "Hopefully this year the draw will be good for me. Usually I play a seeded [player] always here. I've played Roger, I've played Novak, I've played Andy. I played Grigor as well two years ago."

Jaziri couldn't help but crack into laughter as he was drawn against Djokovic, with seventh seed Karen Khachanov and sixth seed Andrey Rublev showing their priceless reactions next to him as well.

Chasing his first Dubai trophy since 2013, 17-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic's potential second-round opponents are Philipp Kohlschreiber or Mohamed Safwat. Djokovic, a four-time Dubai titlist, shares the top quarter of the draw with Khachanov.

View Dubai Singles Draw

Headlining the second quarter of the draw is third seed Gael Monfils. The in-form Frenchman enters Dubai on a nine-match winning streak, having lifted back-to-back titles on indoor hard courts in Montpellier and Rotterdam. Monfils will attempt to improve his 13-2 record this year when he meets Marton Fucsovics of Hungary in the first round.

The 10-time tour-level titlist is joined in the second quarter by fellow Frenchmen Benoit Paire and Richard Gasquet. Eighth seed Paire will face former World No. 3 Marin Cilic in his opening match. Cilic owns a 5-1 ATP Head2Head record against Paire, which includes a five-set victory in their most recent encounter at the Australian Open last month.

Second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas leads the way in the bottom half of the draw. Last year’s runner-up will begin his Dubai campaign against Rotterdam semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta. The winner of that encounter will face Hubert Hurkacz or Marseille semi-finalist Alexander Bublik in the second round.

Fifth seed Roberto Bautista Agut occupies the remaining seeded position in the bottom quarter. The 2018 champion will be aiming to extend his three-match unbeaten ATP Head2Head record against Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round.

Fourth seed Fabio Fognini and sixth seed Rublev will compete in the third quarter of the draw. Fognini will make his debut in Dubai against Daniel Evans, while Rublev opens his bid for a third trophy this year against a qualifier. Rotterdam semi-finalist Filip Krajinovic and Delray Beach finalist Yoshihito Nishioka also feature in the third quarter.

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