Dubai: Four-time champion, world number one and top seed Novak Djokovic led another four seeds as the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open fell into place at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, late on Wednesday.
Djokovic was clinical in his dispatch of German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-1 in under one hour after second seed and last year’s finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas had got a measure of Kazkh, Alexander Bublik, before packing him off 7-6 (1), 6-4.
“I thought I was very sharp from the beginning mentally. It took me a first few games to really kind of get used to the tricky conditions today. It was pretty windy on the court, even though maybe it doesn’t seem like that from outside. The wind was changing directions all the time. It was not really easy to get the rhythm. It was completely different from any other day. Wind just picked up today,” Djokovic said.
“Philipp is a tough opponent. You have to take him seriously regardless of his ranking. He’s someone that has tremendous experience of playing on a big stage. He’s played so many big tournaments in his life, big matches. He actually likes this kind of challenge,” he added.
In the final match on centre court, third seed Gael Monfils blanked Japanese Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-1, 6-2 to set himself up against Richard Gasquet — a 6-4, 6-4 winner over eighth seed and fellow Frenchman Benoit Paire.
Djokovic broke in the sixth to nudge clear 4-2 and then held for 5-2 to ultimately serve out the set 6-3 in half an hour before a near-full stadium. In the second, the top seed was all over with breaks in the first and third to go 4-0 clear before completing the match in less than an hour for the second time in as many days. The top seed will now meet Dubai resident and seventh seed Karen Khachanov at 7pm on Thursday, after the 23-year-old Russian had got rid of qualifier Dennis Novak 6-3, 6-4.
The fourth and fifth seeds — Fabio Fognini and 2018 champion Roberto Bautista Agut — had both perished in the first round against Evans and Struff respectively leaving the lower half of the draw open to sixth seed and fasting-improving Andrey Rublev.
Rublev had to dig in deep against Serbian Filip Krajinovic before winning 7-6 (3), 6-0 to advance to the quarter-finals where he will meet Great Britain’s top player Daniel Evans who had to keep Pierre-Hugues Herbert at bay for close to three hours before winning 7-5, 3-6, 7-6.
Germany’s Struff, who had defeated fifth seed Bautista Agut in their first round match, was in a hurry with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Georgian Nikoloz in just 39 minutes. The German will now meet second seed and red hot Tsitsipas in Thursday’s quarter-final scheduled at 5pm.
The biggest shock of the day on Wednesday came in the men’s doubles when top seeds and defending champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury were stunned 6-4, 6-2 by John Peers and Michael Venus. However, easing through to the semi-finals were the third seeds Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies with a hard-fought 6-4, 6-7 (7), 10-8 win over Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau.
Leander Paes will be one of the highlights on Court 1 on Thursday evening as the Indian teams up with Australian partner Matthew Ebden to take on qualifiers Henri Kontinen and Jan-Lennard Struff in their quarter-finals.
(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; Jan-Lennard Struff bt Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1, 6-0; Novak Djokovic bt Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-1; Richard Gasquet vs Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-4; Gael Monfils bt Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-1, 6-2.
(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.
Order of play — Thursday
Centre Court (Start at 3pm) Andrey Rublev vs Dan Evans; Jan-Lennard Struff vs Stefanos Tsitsipas. (7pm) Novak Djokovic vs Karen Khachanov; Gael Monfils vs Richard Gasquet.
Court 1 (Start at 3pm) Wesley Koolhof/Nikola Mektic vs Raven Klaasen/Oliver Marach; Kevin Krawietz/Andreas Mies vs Jurgen Melzer/Edouard Roger-Vasselin; (After Suitable Rest) Henri Kontinen/Jan-Lennard Struff vs Matthew Ebden/Leander Paes.