Federer Faces Stacked Path In Dubai

Swiss will look to stay unbeaten in 2017

Roger Federer could face World No. 1 Andy Murray and countryman Stan Wawrinka if he plans on taking his eighth title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships this week in the United Arab Emirates.

The 35-year-old Swiss returns to tour-level action for the first time since winning his 18th Grand Slam crown last month at the Australian Open. Down Under, Federer knocked out three Top 10 opponents, including Wawrinka in the semi-finals.

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In Dubai, a similarly difficult path awaits the all-time great, who will go for his 90th career tour-level crown. The third-seeded Federer opens against former Top 20 Frenchman Benoit Paire and could play Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny in the second round.

Seventh seed Lucas Pouille is the highest seed Federer could face in the quarter-finals, and the top-seeded Murray might await in an enticing semi-final. The last-four battle would mark the 26th time they've faced off during their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry.

Federer leads the series 14-11 and has won their past five meetings, but the two haven't played since the 2015 Western & Southern Open semi-final.

Federer and Wawrinka went five gruelling sets during their Australian Open semi-final, and the second seed would surely appreciate the opportunity to get back at his countryman in the Dubai final. Federer leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 19-3.

Murray opens against Tunisia's Malek Jaziri and eighth seed Gilles Muller is the highest-seeded player who could await in the quarter-finals. The Scot will be trying for his first Dubai crown. He fell in the 2012 final to Federer.

Wawrinka, the defending champion, meets Bosnian Damir Dzumhur in the first round and might face fifth seed and two-time runner-up Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals. The 31-year-old Swiss leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 11-5 and has taken their past six meetings. Fourth seed Gael Monfils could await in the semi-finals.

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