Dubai: Second seed Stafanos Tsitsipas led a march of all three seeds involved in the early session of into the quarter-finals of men’s singles at the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open on Wednesday.
A runner-up here last year, Tsitsipas made his way past Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 7-6 (1), 6-4 after sixth seed Andrey Rublev had got the better of Filip Krajinovic of Serbia 7-6 (3), 6-0. Dubai resident and seventh seed Karen Khachanov defeated qualifier Dennis Novak to possibly run into top seed and former four-time champion Novak Djokovic.
Rublev will meet Daniel Evans after Great Britain’s top-ranked player stretched Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 in two hours and 46 minutes on one of the side courts. Tsitsipas, on the other hand, will have to await the winner of the match between Nikoloz Basilashvili and Jan-Lennard Struff that was scheduled to be held later in the evening and complete the last of the quarter-finals slots at the lower end of the draw.
Already with two titles this season following wins in Doha and Adelaide, the 22-year-old Rublev had been touted as one of the upcoming players who could eventually take over at the top of the men’s game. Earlier this month, the Russian had reached his third quarter-final at the Rotterdam Open where he was beaten by Krajinovic.
While the first set was closely contested with Krajinovic dominating the early part with breaks in the fourth and eighth - that were balanced out by Rublev’s two breaks in the seventh and ninth games – the Serbian being undone with a double fault. Rublev slowly started seeing more of the court to get a third break in the eleventh, only to have Krajinovic break back and send the match into tie-break.
In the second, it was one-way traffic with meagre resistence from Krajinovic to allow his Russian opponent to walk away the set and match 6-0 in a mere 26 minutes. “That was really a tough first set. He was twice with a break. I think 4-1 and then 5-3 on serve he had set points. I think the first set was the main one. After the first set we saw that he was really tired. That give me even more confidence to play. That’s why the second set was more easy,” Rublev related.
“The conditions here are really humid, basically for both of us as we’ve just arrived from indoors and this our first tournament outdoors. It’s not easy. I understand him. Maybe if he would win the first set, it would be opposite situation with me,” he added.
After weathering a tough first set that he won 7-1 in the tie-breaker, Tsitsipas had things in total control in the second as one final break in the 10th was enough to take him through into the last eight stages of the competition.
“I’m playing pretty relaxed. I feel my body flexible. I feel my mobility is good. I’m not really tight, which is good,” Tsitsipas said.
“Right now I feel a bit sleepy. That’s because I sleep late every day. It’s difficult for me with the jetlag,” he added. The 21-year-old Greek, winner of the Marseille Open last Sunday, will await the winner of the late evening match between Jan-Lennard Struff and Nikoloz Basilashvili.
In the doubles, John Peers and Michael Venus caused the biggest upset toppling top seeds and defending champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 6-4, 6-2, after third seeds Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies hustled their way past Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau 6-4, 6-7 (7), 10-8.
(Men’s Singles) Andrey Rublev bt Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (3), 6-0; Stefanos Tsitsipas bt Alexander Bublik 7-6 (1), 6-4; Daniel Evans bt Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-5, 3-6, 7-6; Karen Khachanov bt Dennis Novak 6-3, 6-4.
(Men’s doubles quarter-finals) Kevin Krawietz/Andreas Mies bt Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau 6-4, 6-7, 10-8; John Peers/Michael Venus bt Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury 6-4, 6-2.