Watch List: Djokovic, Kerber return to action in Dubai, Doha
The Watch List is your go-to guide to the upcoming week in tennis, highlighting the must-know storylines, matchups and more.
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Notable players: Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic returns to action this week in Dubai for the first time since defeating Andy Murray to win the 2016 Australian Open in January.
"I've been spending a lot of time with my wife and child, leaving my racquet on the side," Djokovic said on Sunday in Dubai. "It's important to re-group, in order to prepare for the next three or four months. I went two weeks without touching a racket... I am eager to come back and compete. I missed it.”
The No. 1 seed is playing in Dubai for the 10th year in a row and looks to extend his streak of reaching 17-straight finals. He is also looking to become the 12th player in the Open Era to win 700 career singles matches and began his campaign with a straight-sets win over Tommy Robredo on Monday.
No. 2 Stan Wawrinka, No. 3 Tomas Berdych, No. 4 Roberto Bautista Agut, Viktor Troicki, Feliciano Lopez, Martin Klizan and Philipp Kohlschreiber are also in the draw. On Monday, Lopez defeated Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to reach a career milestone of 400 wins. After defeating Richard Gasquet, Berdych and Marin Cilic to en route to his first career title in Marseille on Sunday, Nick Kyrgios will make his Dubai debut against Klizan on Monday.
Brazil Open (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Notable players: Benoit Paire, Thomaz Bellucci, Pablo Cuevas
Frenchman Benoit Paire, who is coming off a loss in the semifinals to Marin Cilic in Marseille, is the No. 1 seed on the red clay courts in Sao Paulo. Thomaz Bellucci, defending champion Pablo Cuevas, Federico Delbonis, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Paolo Lorenzi, Nicolas Almagro and Pablo Andujar are also in the field.
Qatar Total Open (Doha, Qatar)
Notable players: Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza
The WTA’s first Premier 5 level tournament kicks off in Doha this week with World No. 2 Angelique Kerber leading the field after Serena Williams withdrew last week, citing the flu. Playing in her first WTA tournament since winning her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne, Kerber will open up against Saisai Zheng and has Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, Eugenie Bouchard and Belinda Bencic in her half of the draw. In the bottom half, No. 2-seed Simona Halep is joined by Agnieszka Radwanska, Carla Suarez Navarro and Lucie Safarova, who will play in her first match of 2016 after a bacterial infection took her out of the 2015 U.S. Open and WTA Finals. The lingering effects of the infection caused Safarova to miss the beginning of this season as well. She'll open against Turkish wildcard Cagla Buyukakcay.
Some notable first-round matches include Kristina Mladenovic vs. Barbora Strycova, Andrea Petkovic vs. Ekaterina Makarova and Timea Bacsinszky vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The projected quarterfinals are: Kerber vs. Kvitova, Muguruza vs. Bencic, Radwanska vs. Safarova and Halep vs. Suarez Navarro.
Abierto Mexicano TELCEL (Acapulco, Mexico)
Notable players: David Ferrer, Victoria Azarenka, Kei Nishikori, Sloane Stephens
On the men’s side, World No. 6 and defending champion David Ferrer leads the field in Acapulco for the ATP 500 level hard court tournament. Kei Nishikori, who is coming off a title in Memphis a week ago, is the No. 2 seed and Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem, Bernard Tomic, Ivo Karlovic, Jeremy Chardy and Steve Johnson are also in the field.
No. 4-seed Dominic Thiem, who captured his fourth career ATP title in Buenos Aires last Sunday, advanced to the semifinals in Rio last week and will make his debut in Acapulco this week. The 22-year-old has beaten Rafael Nadal (Buenos Aires semifinals) and Ferrer (Rio quarterfinals) in the last two weeks.
In the WTA’s International level tournament in Acapulco, Victoria Azarenka leads the field and is playing in her first event since losing to eventual champion Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open. She is joined by Sloane Stephens, who is also playing for the first time since losing in the first round in Melbourne, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Dominika Cibulkova and Australian Open semifinalist Johanna Konta, who is currently ranked at a career-high No. 27.