1 March 2017 -- Dubai, UAE: Fernando Verdasco reached his first Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships quarter-final with a thrilling two hour 25-minute 6-4 3-6 7-5 victory over fellow Spaniard and number six seed Roberto Bautista Agut. All three of their previous matches had gone to three sets, and the outcome of their latest hard-fought battle remained in the balance right to the end. Verdasco took the opening set only after saving three break points as he served at 5-4. Bautista Agut levelled by breaking for 4-2 in the second, and the pair swapped a break each in the third before Verdasco broke again at 6-5.
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"It was from the beginning tough match," said Verdasco. "Almost every game hard to win for both sides, I think for me and for him. It was a close match, difficult match, hard physically, mentally. I knew that it was going to be like that, because every time I play him it's like that. He's one of the most solid guys in the circuit right now, on the ATP World Tour.
"Maybe [he] doesn't have an unbelievable serve but I think that his movement on the court, he's one of the best, and his mentality, no? It doesn't matter what the score is, he's always giving his 100%, and that is what is making him so tough to beat. With him, until the last point you have to be unbelievably focused and fighting for every point. That's what I did, and I'm very happy that I went through and I'm in quarter-finals for the first time here."
Recent Marseille finalist and number seven seed Lucas Pouille eased past qualifier Marius Copil 6-1 6-4, and Philipp Kohlschreiber earned a single break in each set to defeat Daniil Medvedev 6-4 6-4.
"Fernando Verdasco and Roberto Bautista Agut played a wonderful match with neither giving an inch from start to finish" said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organisers. "We have lost our sixth seed and wish him well in the future, but Lucas Pouille has continued the form that took him to the Marseille final last week and we look forward to his next match."
Tournament director Salah Tahlak added, "There is so much depth in the draw here that it is no surprise at all that would we could enjoy such an exciting and fiercely contested match which resulted in the loss of our sixth seed. There are certainly many more such battles ahead of us before we crown our 2017 champion on Saturday."
Play continues until 4th March and includes Wimbledon, Olympic and ATP World Tour Finals champion and world number one Andy Murray, Australian Open champion and seven-time Dubai winner Roger Federer and two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
For further information about the tournament visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.