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Tennis: Dubai sees Djokovic return to action

With the season's first Grand Slam well in the rearview mirror, the ATP and WTA Tours continue this week with action in Dubai and Rio de Janeiro.

And, after missing the Australian Open in January, Novak Djokovic is set to play his first competitive tennis of the year at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Novak looks to hit ground running

The Serb was last in action on the ATP circuit at last year's World Tour Finals, losing to eventual champion Alex Zverev in the event's semi-finals.

But the upcoming tournament in Dubai should give him a great shot at returning to glory given the 20-time Grand Slam champion has won there on five occasions, the last of which was back in 2020.

He enters the tournament as the top seed, but will be wary of second seed Andrey Rublev, who is the reigning champion, and Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is enjoying a great start to 2022 and who is seeded third.

Murray accepts Dubai wildcard

Former world number one Andy Murray may have past his best, but he is in for a busy few weeks with the Qatar Open set to be swiftly followed by an appearance at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Murray is 2/7 to beat Japanese ace Taro Daniel, who is 11/4 to prevail, in the first round in Doha, Qatar, but he has also accepted a wildcard entry for Dubai.

It will be his first appearance at the Dubai Tennis Championships since he won the ATP 500 tournament title five years ago.

Regarding Murray's involvement, Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty-Free, said: "We are thrilled that Andy has chosen to compete once again…he has always received a huge and enthusiastic welcome."

It will be Murray's seventh appearance at the Dubai tournament and he is worth keeping an eye on after reaching the final of the Sydney International earlier this year.

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Jabeur returns for Dubai bid

Impressively, 17 of the top 20 female players in the world will be involved in the WTA Dubai Tennis Championship and one player looking to make a name for herself will be Ons Jabeur.

Recently crowned Australian Open winner Ashleigh Barty will not be involved, but the outright market is headed by the likes of Anett Kontaveit, who is 13/2 to win, Paula Badosa, who can be backed at 7/1 and 7/1 shot Aryna Sabalenka.

Jabeur, though, should not be dismissed at 14/1.

She is the highest ranked Arab player in both WTA and ATP Tour history, but was forced to withdraw from the Australian Open before the first round last month.

Prior to the Grand Slam, she made the quarter-finals of the Sydney International, before handing Kontaveit a walkover victory and she will be eager to recapture the form she showed at last October's Indian Wells Masters, having made the last four on that occasion.

She starts her tournament against Vera Zvonareva in the first round and the Russian is 5/2 to come out on top with Tunisian Jabeur 3/10.

Berrettini keen to impress on clay

Despite the withdrawal of veteran Juan Martin del Potro, there are a handful of top men's players in action at the ATP Rio starting this week.

Australian Open semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini headlines the field, with improving Spanish youngster Carlos Alcaraz also worth monitoring.

Berrettini has not played since that impressive campaign in Melbourne and, after also making the final of Wimbledon last year, he will be looking to show he has what it takes to cut it on South American clay.

He will lock horns with either Thiago Monteiro or a qualifier in the second round and is 3/1 to be crowned champion in Brazil.

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