Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Dubai resident Karen Khachanov reached the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday with a 7-6 (2) 6-1 win over Mikhail Kukushkin, and tour veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber overcame a bold challenge from Egyptian wild card Mohamed Safwat, winning 4-6 6-4 6-0.
Safwat, who recently won his first Challenger title in his 133rd tournament spread over 10 years, broke Kohlschreiber to love to take the first set, but Kohlschreiber edged through the second set and them dominated the third.
Injury played a part in Safwat’s defeat, as he explained, “Towards in the middle of the second set, I don’t know, I just start to feel little bit pain in my quadriceps. It just was on the serve. The points were okay. I think in general overall was good match. Yeah, he’s also tough opponent. He has more experience than me. There are positive and negative in the match. I just have to look again on the match, see what I could do better.”
Kohlschreiber was disappointed with the way he let the first set get away, but was impressed with his opponent.
“I think I missed too many opportunities in the first set.,” said Kohlschreiber “Well, he won the big points, served quite well on the breakpoints. I think I gave him too many easy mistakes. I was in quite a, yeah, good position many times, but I missed quite easy shots. I was not unhappy with my game, but this took away a little bit of my confidence. I played too safe. He stepped it up and played aggressive, especially in the last game, 5-4. He was returning very well. He took the chances to play aggressive.
“I think he played very good. He is a player with a high intensity of game. He’s moving around very well. His forehand is a good weapon. I think he served also very well. Yeah, he’s a good guy, improved a lot.”
Khachanov made a slow start, trailing 1-3 and 2-4 before seizing control in the tie-break and then sprinting to a 5-0 lead in the second set.
“Yeah, was not easy opening match,” he said. “Always first round is pretty tough. I’m really happy I could get the win. I have another match, another opportunity to play better. There were some difficult moments during the match. That’s really great to keep that set, the first set. I think it was important one. The second set was going everything much better.
Kohlschreiber gets the job done! 👏
— ATP Tour (@atptour) February 24, 2020
“Yeah, just to find more balance between aggressive shots and still pushing through the ball. I think footwork was good. Serve was okay. Yeah, some situations where I was actually taking the lead, but I couldn’t finish the point. I was missing some quite easy balls. It’s never easy. But still they were like really, really close to the net that I should finish it up and just make those points. I don’t know if it’s about focus or concentration or just tight moments into the match.”
The tournament also includes world No.1 and reigning Wimbledon and Australian champion Novak Djokovic, along with second seed and 2019 Dubai runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Three of the Top 10 and seven of the Top 20 are among those bidding for the title this week, with Djokovic seeking his fifth title and Roberto Bautista Agut his second in Dubai. No less than four players who are competing in Dubai this week have already won titles this year. As well as Djokovic winning the ATP Cup team competition and in Melbourne, and Tsitsipas’s triumph in Marseille last week, back in January Andrei Rublev became the first man in 16 years to win back-to-back titles in the opening two weeks of the season by claiming the trophy in both Doha and Adelaide. On top of that No.3 seed Gael Monfils recently won consecutive titles in Montpelier and Rotterdam.
“We are thrilled to welcome to Dubai so many players who have made such a successful start to the 2020 season,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “While Novak Djokovic as the top seed and the world No.1 will naturally begin as the favourite, there are many others who are in excellent form and who are certain to offer a strong challenge. We wish everyone well and eagerly look forward to seeing who will be crowned as our champion.”
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak added, “We have enjoyed two excellent matches on Centre Court this afternoon, with both winners having to fight back from difficult starts to advance to the second round. We can expect to see many more close battles in the days ahead.”
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. The tournament continues until 29th February with world No.1 and Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, ATP Finals and recent Marseille winner Stefanos Tsitsipas, 2020 Rotterdam and Montpellier champion Gael Monfils and 2018 Dubai winner Roberto Bautista Agut.
Rublev makes his mark in Dubai!
— ATP Tour (@atptour) February 24, 2020