Watch List: Djokovic, Federer return in Dubai while Sharapova plays Acapulco
The Watch List spotlights the must-know storylines for the upcoming week in tennis. This week, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer headline the Dubai Championships while Maria Sharapova makes her Acapulco debut.
No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Roger Federer have won 10 of the last 12 titles in Dubai and lead a tough field. While most of the men have been competing since the Australian Open, this is the first tournament since Melbourne for the top two seeds. Andy Murray, who will rise to No. 3 on Monday, is also in the field and has drawn the bottom half of the draw with Federer. He's looking to rebound from a bad straight-set loss to Gilles Simon in Rotterdam two weeks ago.
With no byes awarded, Djokovic will open against Vasek Pospisil and Federer will play his first round match against Mikhail Youzhny. Murray has a potentially tricky opener against the serve and volleying Gilles Muller. No. 4 seed Tomas Berdych opens against Jeremy Chardy.
How much with the weather affect play? Heavy wind has been whipping around Dubai, creating some unexpectedly sandy conditions:
The women move on from Dubai to Doha for the Qatar Open, where No. 3 Simona Halep is the defending champion. Halep won the Dubai Championships on Saturday and withdrew from Doha due to abdominal and ankle issues. No. 4 Petra Kvitova is the top seed, with No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 8 Agnieszka Radwanska, and No. 9 Ekaterina Makarova round out the other high seeds. Venus Williams is seeded No. 7 and opens against Casey Dellacqua.
The action starts early in Doha, headlined by a first-round clash between Angelique Kerber and Victoria Azarenka. This is Azarenka's first tournament since the Australian Open, as well as her first with new coach Wim Fissette. Given how well she played in Australia, there's reason to expect her to make a deep run in Doha. She could face Wozniacki, who she beat in Melbourne, in the third round.
Another tough first round match to watch is the all-Spanish derby between Carla Suarez Navarro and Garbine Muguruza. The two doubles partners played a tough quarterfinal in Dubai that Muguruza won in three sets. The winner could play the hottest player on tour, Karolina Pliskova, in the second round.
Can David Ferrer transition back to hard courts and keep his good run going? No. 5 Kei Nishikori and No. 9 Ferrer lead the men's field in Acapulco with defending champion Grigor Dimitrov and Kevin Anderson as the top four seeds. Also in the draw is Ivo Karlovic, fresh off his title run at the Delray Beach Open on Sunday.
On the women's side, No. 2 Maria Sharapova makes her Acapulco debut and tops the field, with Rio Open champion Sara Errani as the No. 2 seed. Sharapova plays her first match against Shelby Rogers.
Sloane Stephens is back in action for the first time since Australia and is seeded No. 7. She opens against Johanna Larsson.
• MORE TENNIS: Ferrer beats Fognini at Rio to win second title of year
Top-seed Rafael Nadal is still seeking his first final of the season after losing a tight three-setter to Fabio Fognini last week at the Rio Open. The two could meet again in the semifinals in Buenos Aires. Nadal has a bye into the second round and will play a qualifier or Albert Montanes.