Dubai’s Curse: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, and Andy Roddick Desert the Desert

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Dubai’s Curse: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, and Andy Roddick Desert the Desert

Dubai is one of the pivotal 500 tournaments of the year: a hot, outdoor, hard-court launch pad for the first big Masters events of the year in North America.

It attracts the biggest names, all eager to get some top quality competition in the right conditions.

It starts a comfortable three weeks after the rigors of the Australian Open and finishes a good two weeks ahead of Indian Wells.

Dry and warm, luxurious and glamorous, it has all the advantages—which must make the misfortunes it has suffered for two successive years all the harder to handle.

Look, for example, at the starting lineup for 2009.

Injury claimed no fewer than four of the top seeds: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Nikolay Davydenko, and Fernando Verdasco.

This meant that, of the top 10 men, it boasted only three: Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and Gilles Simon. There were just two more from the top 20: David Ferrer at No. 14 and Marin Cilic at No. 19.

The promoters continued to see their lackluster event struggle when Andy Murray withdrew after the second round with a virus that he'd picked up at the Australian Open.

His participation had been looking ever more uncertain as he struggled with his ankle, but the virus was an unexpected blow.

So one firework after another failed to light up the 2009 Dubai sky. The tournament was eventually able to let off a small firecracker to celebrate the top seed, Djokovic, lasting to the end and winning the title.

There were yet more woes for this classy tournament last year, and now it seems as though lightning really can strike twice in the same place.

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