The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships get underway on Monday, with world number one Andy Murray, current Australian Open Champion Roger Federer and defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka headlining the field.

Some of the ATP World Tour’s biggest stars are returning to action in the desert to resume their 2017 season following an extended break after the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne. Murray and Federer are both making their first appearances on court since January and are keen to make an impression ahead of the two upcoming big ATP Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami.

The contenders

The inaugural edition of this event took place in 1993 and has seen some of the biggest stars grace the courts here ever since, including seven time champion Federer. His Swiss compatriot Wawrinka captured the title last year, defeating Marcos Baghdatis in the final 6-4, 7-6(13).

The world number three is one of the strongest contenders in the field alongside world number one Murray. The Brit is making his first appearance on court since his shock fourth round exit in the Australian Open against world number 50 Mischa Zverev. Murray, winner of three Grand Slam titles, reached the final in Dubai in 2012. Having dominated the second half of last season, capturing title after title as he propelled himself to the top of the world rankings, the Brit will be hoping to bounce back immediately following a difficult time at Melbourne Park.

Federer rolled back the years down under, capturing his first Grand Slam title since Wimbledon 2012, and will strongly fancy his chances of capturing an eighth Dubai crown. A potential semifinal clash with Murray is certainly one to whet the appetite for fans and the winner of this potential match would certainly be the favourite to lift the crown.

Standing in their way, fourth seed Gael Monfis, who enters this event fresh from a run to the quarterfinals in Marseille (l. Gasquet), world number 14 Tomas Berdych, finalist in 2013 and 2014 and world number 17 Lucas Pouille. The Frenchman comes into the event in excellent form having reached the final in Marseille on Sunday, losing out to compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-4.

The draw

Federer opens up against former top 20 player Benoit Paire and could face Pouille in the last eight before possible clashes with Murray and Wawrinka if he is to take the title. Murray faces Malek Jaziri in the first round, potentially facing eighth seed Gilles Muller in the quarterfinals.

Wawrinka takes on Damir Dzumhur in round one and could face Berdych and Monfils later in the event. Other players of note lurking dangerously in the draw for the top guns to face are young gun Danil Medvedev, who lies second in the ATP Rankings for players 21 or younger, and British number two Dan Evans. The Brit has made a superb start to his campaign in 2017, reaching a maiden ATP Tour final in Sydney in early January (l.

Muller), before reaching the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time at the Australian Open (l. Tsonga). He also played an important role in Great Britain's Davis Cup win over Canada. Evans faces the ever-entertaining German Dustin Brown in the opening round and could face Monfils next.

Seeded players

The top eight seeds for this tournament are as follows: 1) Andy Murray, 2) Stanislas Wawrinka, 3) Roger Federer, 4) Gael Monfils, 5) Tomas Berdych, 6) Roberto Bautista Agut, 7) Lucas Pouille, 8) Gilles Muller.

The tournament runs from Monday 26th February to Saturday 4th March and it promises to be an exciting event full of high quality tennis as the ATP 500 event boasts yet another excellent field of players.