Dubai: Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas and Borna Coric halted the further exit of seeds with identical three-set wins against Matthew Ebden and Jiri Vesely respectively to enter the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, late on Tuesday.
Fifth seed Tsitsipas – who famously beat Roger Federer at the Australian Open this year – stopped Australian Ebden 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in an hour and 43 minutes on centre court, while sixth seed Coric had to dig in deep to pack off Belarussian lucky loser Vesely 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (4) in a marathon match lasting 2 hours and 49 minutes well past midnight on Court 1.
The win for the two seeds was a welcome change to the men’s competition after the opening two days had witnessed the exit of four of the top eight players.
The opening session on Tuesday saw the fall of eighth seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia as he went down 3-6, 3-6 to qualifier Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania, while third seed Marin Cilic was the next to depart after an entertaining 3-6, 6-4, 0-6 loss to in-form Frenchman Gael Monfils later in the evening.
The opening day on Monday had already claimed two seeds – No. 4 Karen Khachanov losing in straight sets to Nikoloz Basilashvili and No. 7 Milos Raonic caving in to to Jan-Lennard Struff.
However, Tsitsipas – who won the Marseille Open over the weekend and landed in Dubai at 2 am on Monday – halted the trend of exits while finding a way past Ebden. A break in the fifth and held serve on love was enough to hand the 20-year-old Greek the first set 6-4. He slowly started losing his rhythm and that translated into a break in serve in the sixth game as Ebden ran away with the second set 6-3.
In the third, Tsitsipas was more focused and despite an early exchange of breaks the Greek youngster got a second opportunity in the sixth to finally serve out set and match to set up a second round encounter with Belarussian qualifier Egor Gerasimov.
“I had to take the flight next day knowing that I’m going to have to play the day after. Six hours on the plane and I arrived here at 2 in the morning and then had to play the same day. I don’t know if it’s because of that, but I was expecting a little bit better today,” Tsitsipas narrated.
“I’m going to practice and fix some things that I have to fix,” he promised.
In Wednesday’s Round Two, Tsitsipas will take on qualifier Gerasimov, while Coric will line up against the experienced Tomas Berdych.