DUBAI, February 27, 2019
Top seed Kei Nishikori fell to a shock second round defeat at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday. The world No. 6 was defeated 7-5 5-7 6-2 by Hubert Hurkacz, who until last week in Marseille had not won a match on the ATP Tour this season.
Nishikori appeared to be progressing comfortably, not conceding a point in his first four service games, but then after breaking Hurkacz to lead 5-4 he was broken in his next two, giving up the second at love to lose the first set.
In the second set, Nishikori quickly built a 4-0 lead and again appeared to be on track for an expected victory, but he struggled again to close out the set, leading 5-1 before eventually closing it out on his sixth set point. The final set saw Hurkacz break twice to claim his unlikely victory.
Hubi: Fully Loaded 🙌
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 27. Februar 2019
“Well, he played good, I think. I didn’t play perfect today, but I think he was playing good serves. Yeah, better than I thought,” said Nishikori. “I mean, with this wind and this surface, not easy. I mean, of course, I didn’t serve well when I wanted to. I mean, it happens. With these conditions, it’s never easy. I think he really played well in the important games.”
It is the first time that Hurkacz has beaten a top 10 opponent, and his win came after he arrived in Dubai expecting to play in the qualifying rounds.
“It’s huge win for me because it’s the first top 10 win”, said the world No. 77. “I was trying to fight for every point. I mean, Kei is unbelievable player. Yeah, I had to serve good. That gave me some opportunities to attack after the serve, also win couple of easy points. Against such a great player, it’s very important to have some free points. I was also I think returning quite well. I mean, the match was a little up and down. But, yeah, I’m very happy with the win today.”
Qualifier Ricardas Berankis followed up his defeat of eighth seed Daniil Medvedev by beating Denis Kudla 6-4 6-1, who was looking to be the first American to reach the quarter-finals since Andy Roddick won the title in 2008.
“We congratulate Hubert Hurkacz on his victory and it will be very interesting to see if he can make further progress this week,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “We wish Kei Nishikori well for the rest of the season and look forward to welcoming him back to Dubai in the future.”
“Before the tournament began, Kei Nishikori warned that any player ranked in the top 100 should not be taken lightly, and his prophecy that anyone is capable of staging an upset has come true,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak.