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Murray in lap of luxury

Andy Murray
Andy Murray faces Sergiy Stakhovsky in the Dubai Tennis Championships

By Kheredine Idessane
BBC Scotland at the Dubai Tennis Championships

He is staying in one of the best hotels in the world - and has Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to thank for it.

The top two seeds usually get invited to the city's most exclusive pad - the Burj al Arab - for the duration of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

But, as aches and pains put paid to the world numbers one and two for this week, it was no sore point at all for the next best players in the world to be upgraded to ultra first-class.

Step forward Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Murray's two-level suite in the famous landmark built in the shape of a sail is so big he could probably play his first round match in it, easily accommodating the umpire, line judges and ball kids.

The crowd and media could squeeze in at the back.

If Dunblane's finest hadn't quite realised that he's hit the big time, he sure knows it now.

How exclusive is it? I was stuck outside the outer security cordon until a personal invitation in was forthcoming.

As second seed, he's the clear favourite to advance from the bottom half of the draw, and what price a Murray-Djokovic final on Saturday?

And, even then, they took your name in triplicate; which is quite time consuming when it's Kheredine Idessane.

Yes, for rock stars and oil-rich Sheikhs, now read Andy Murray.

And why not? He's arguably the form player in world tennis right now, and will want to live up to that billing here in the United Arab Emirates.

He beat Federer on the way to the quarters last year and I imagine anything less than a semi-final this time around will be a big disappointment.

As second seed, he's the clear favourite to advance from the bottom half of the draw, and what price a Murray-Djokovic final on Saturday?

Given that he's fresh from beating Nadal in the Rotterdam final, that wouldn't hold too many fears for the Scot. And, whisper it, were Murray to win, it would be his 11th ATP title.

The same tally in four years on the tour that Tim Henman managed in fourteen.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

First up, it's his old pal Sergiy Stakhovsky from Ukraine, who may well be sick of the sight of Murray.

The Burj al Arab
The Burj al Arab
Not only has the British number one beaten him both times they've played as seniors (most recently in Doha last month) but Stakhovsky was the loser in one of Andy Murray's most treasured memories - and best achievements.

It was the Ukrainian he beat to win the US Open boys' title in New York in 2004.

This first round encounter here in Dubai is a match Murray should win, and if he does it would be either Rainer Schuttler of Germany or France's Arnaud Clement in the next round.

Again, neither is the kind of opponent who frightens Murray.

That's the point - no one really does, which is probably why his competitive record for this year reads: played 14 , won 13, lost only one.

If that kind of form continues, expect to see Murray having another very good week here in Dubai.

Just don't expect him to check out of his hotel in a hurry.

In fact, they'll probably have to evict him.

I don't imagine he'll mind if he's stashing away another trophy along with the bathrobe.

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see also
Resurgent Venus wins Dubai Open
21 Feb 09 |  Tennis

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