Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Second seed and 2019 finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday with a 7-6 (1) 6-4 win over Alexander Bublik, and sixth seed Andrey Rublev survived a set point on the way to a 7-6 (3) 6-0 victory over Filip Krajinovic to avenge his recent Rotterdam defeat.
Tsitsipas was never able to take control over Bublik, but emerged from pressure moments well. He failed to convert two set points before Bublik held to take the opening set to a tiebreak, but swept that with ease. And in the second set he fought off three break points when down 3-4, before serving out the win.
“Yeah, also had a lot of breakpoints which I didn’t play very smart,” said world No.6 Tsitsipas. “They came quite different. I mean, his dropshots were really good today. Yeah, he likes to serve and volley. He did quite well keeping in the game and surprising me most of the time. But, yeah, it’s a tough Stefanos that managed to find ways in these tough moments to apply pressure and not let go.”
Having played and retained his title in Marseille on Sunday before travelling straight to Dubai, how was he feeling after his matches here?
“Right now I feel a bit sleepy. That’s because I sleep late every day. It’s difficult for me with the jet lag. On the other hand, I’m playing pretty relaxed. I feel my body flexible. I feel my mobility is good. I’m not really tight, which is good.”
Rublev was ranked 112 a year ago and is this week at a career-high 14 after he began 2020 by winning back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide, establishing him as the first man since 2004 to win titles in the first two weeks of the year. His run of 15 straight victories, including his wins in the Davis Cup Finals at the end of last season, were brought to an end in the fourth round of the Australian Open. In his only tournament since, he was defeated by Krajinovic in the Rotterdam quarter-final.
Different day, same result ✅
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 26, 2020
The advantage lay with Serbian Krajinovic throughout the opening set and he held a set point at 5-3. Even though Rublev won the next three games and served at 6-5, he couldn’t quite secure the set until taking control in the tie-break. In contrast to the 74-minute first set, the second saw Krajinovic salvage just 10 points as he was no longer able to mount a challenge.
“Yeah, was really tough first set,” said sixth seed Rublev. “He was twice with a break. I think 4-1 then 5-3 serving. He had set point. It was really tough match. The first set I think was the main one. After the first set we saw that he was really tired. That give me even more – how you say – more confidence to play. That’s why the second set was more easy.
“Basically now both me and him, we just arrived from indoor. We play couple of tournaments indoor. This is our first tournament outdoor. It’s not easy. (In the first set) both of us, we had long rallies, not really easy games on our serve. Every serve game was advantage, deuce, advantage. I remember I had break points from the first game till the tiebreak. All the games had break points. I understand him. Maybe if he would win the first set, it would be opposite situation with me.”
Rublev will next face Daniel Evans, who followed up his first round upset of fourth seed Fabio Fognini by fighting off three match points to overcome Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-5 3-6 7-6 (7). Evans trailed 5-2 in the first set before sweeping the next five games and then winning the first two games of the second, but then surrendered six of the next seven games as Herbert levelled the match. After an early exchange of breaks in the third, Herbert then led the tiebreak 6-4 and 7-6 before Evans closed out the match at the end of their two hour 46-minute battle with an animated celebration.
“There have been few, if any, easy matches this week, and both Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas were involved in exciting Centre Court contests this afternoon,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “The tournament is building now to what will surely be an exciting climax as we wait to see who will be crowned as our 2020 champion.”
How about this for a celebration! 👏
Dan Evans saves 3 match points to defeat Herbert 7-5 3-6 7-6 & will face Rublev in the QF.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) February 26, 2020
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak added, “Tennis fans were able to enjoy a wonderful contest on court one this afternoon for free, as Daniel Evans fought off a strong challenge from Pierre-Hugues Herbert. There was also a great battle on Centre Court as Andrey Rublev sought a way to overcome Filip Krajinovic, and Stefanos Tsitsipas was also stretched by Alexander Bublik before reaching the quarter-finals. No doubt there will be many more similar struggles 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, and 2020 Rotterdam and Montpellier champion Gael Monfils.