Tennis - Kei Nishikori
Kei Nishikori of Japan sealed a berth in the quarter finals in Dubai to stay in his pursuit of breaking into top-10 again. Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: Japan’s Kei Nishikori, aiming to break into the world Top-10 again after returning to the ATP Tour in August last year following a 12-month absence due to injury, booked his quarter final spot in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene.

In other Round 3 matches, Canadian Denis Shapovalov tamed Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-3 in 76 minutes. ‘‘I definitely played some great tennis today. I struggled against Hubert in the past. He’s such a great player and he’s got a lot of weapons,” Shapovalov said.

“He’s definitely not easy to play against, so I’m really happy to get my first win against him. I think I’ve been playing really well and taking my chances and I was serving really well today. I felt it on the important points.”

Shapovalov faces France’s Jeremy Chardy in the quarter final, the latter bouncing back from a set down to win 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 35 minutes against eighth seed Karen Khachanov of Russia. It was 34-year-old Chardy’s second three-set win in the tournament and followed his 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win over Australia’s Alex de Minaur.

Chardy said: “When you are confident and feeling good, you tend to play better. I played well in the beginning of the year so it is always easier to play when you are confident. It is not over even if you play a bad set. So, I stayed focussed and tried to find a solution.

“To have already played a match here is always an advantage. You know the speed of the ball.”

Meanwhile, No.4 seed and 2018 champion, Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain crashed on Wednesday, losing 4-6, 6-3, 5-7 to Italy’s Jannik Sinner while wild card Russian Aslan Karatsev came from behind to beat No.17 seeded Italian Lorenzo Sonego 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Thiem falls

Bautista-Agut followed top seed Dominic Thiem at the exit door, with the world No.4 Austrian falling to South African qualifier and world No.8 Lloyd Harris late on Tuesday. Harris won the second round tie 6-3, 6-4 in 72 minutes.

Harris looked sharp and capitalised at the right time, winning two of four break-points earned during a contest that saw him serve nine aces to Thiem’s six. Harris was due to face No.11 seed Filip Krajinovic in their third round tie late on Wednesday.

Thiem said: “I struggled to return his serve and there were too many mistakes from the baseline on my part. I said a couple of days ago if I’m not playing my best level, it’s not enough against all the players in the draw.”