Top Arab player Malek Jaziri set to face Grigor Dimitrov in Dubai

Top Arab player Malek Jaziri set to face Grigor Dimitrov in Dubai
Malek Jaziri reached the quarterfinal in Dubai in 2014. (AFP)
Updated 25 February 2018

Top Arab player Malek Jaziri set to face Grigor Dimitrov in Dubai

Top Arab player Malek Jaziri set to face Grigor Dimitrov in Dubai

DUBAI: Top seed Grigor Dimitrov feels he cannot afford to ease into the Dubai Championships when he faces top Arab player Malek Jaziri on Tuesday.
Dimitrov has been pitched against Malek Jaziri for the first time in his career in the round of 32 tie at the Aviation Club and knows he cannot expect an easy ride from the world No. 109.
“For sure I need to be ready,” said Dimitrov, the Australian Open quarterfinalist. “Every opponent you play, you cannot underestimate. Anyone here can come out and play unbelievable. Maybe it’s their day. On any given day they can just produce a different tennis. In a way, players have nothing to lose when they play against a higher seed. They’re a bit more loose, a bit more freely swinging. All these things are adding up to the occasion. That’s why I think you have to be ready. You should never underestimate an opponent you play.”
Jaziri is a tricky customer. He reached a career-high ranking of 47 last year and won gold at the Pan Arab Games in 2011. He reached the quarterfinals in Dubai four years ago and pushed Andy Murray in the first set of last year’s tournament before going down 6-4, 6-1. The 34-year-old will be seeking to perhaps take advantage of the fact Dimitrov has been under the weather. He is still hoarse from the virus which left him out of energy as Roger Federer dominated last week’s final in Rotterdam.
“I’m getting out there,” said Dimitrov. “It’s still been a little up and down. I came here a little bit earlier to acclimatize to the conditions. I’m still talking a little nosey here, but I’m better, overall better. Pretty much been practicing every single day. That helps me just push through days. Hopefully with each day, I’m going to be better and better.”
The world No. 4 heads the field in Dubai as Federer is absent. Federer, a seven-time winner of the event, will concentrate on his March title defenses at Indian Wells and Miami and will not make the trip this month to his winter training base in the Gulf.
“I think always these kind of draws are creating very big opportunities for everyone to do their best, to do better, to push themselves more,” said Dimitrov. “One of the most important things for me has been to really focus on myself, to start to build up again. My goal is to be better with each match. This is what I did the last week, the week before. I feel like this is the key that I really need to focus on.”