DUBAI, February 24, 2015
World number one Novak Djokovic headlined the action on Tuesday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. The four-time champion defeated Vasek Pospisil in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 in the opening match of the night session. The top-seed needed 78 minutes to gain his third victory over the Canadian in their third meeting.
“Well, first match since Australian Open final, so still looking for that rhythm on the court,” said Djokovic. “But I managed to stay mentally tough. Patient in rallies, I thought. As soon as we get through the rally, I have a better chance of winning. He’s a very flashy player, aggressive, goes after his shots. I just utilized my opportunities.”
In the final match of the day Fernando Verdasco, who has come to Dubai for the first time since 2008, won the all-Spanish-affair against Guillermo Garcia-López in straight sets. The leftie from Madrid emerged victorious in 80 minutes winning 7-5, 6-1 to meet defending champion Roger Federer in the next round.
Earlier the day, the tournament’s number three and four also advanced to the second round. Third seed Andy Murray, who returned to Dubai after his last appearance in 2012, took out Luxembourg veteran Gilles Muller winning 6-4, 7-5 in one hour and 45 minutes.
“I made him work very hard I think on his service games. That was something I wanted to try to do from early on in the match,” said Murray. “I think the end of both sets I didn’t serve so well, but apart from that I didn’t give him any opportunities really. I thought I played a fairly high quality match.”
Fourth seed Tomas Berdych claimed a third win in the third meeting with Jeremy Chardy. The 29-year-old Czech withstood twelve aces and broke the Frenchman tree times to seal victory in one hour and 32 minutes winning 7-6, 6-4. Berdych is only one win away to become the seventh active player to claim 500 victories on the ATP World Tour.
“Some of the things were a little bit on my side that I made it complicated a bit more than usual, but the outcome, it’s important that I won the last point of the match and get through it,” said Berdych. “Not every day it’s going to be perfect.”
Sergiy Stakhovsky beat Lukas Rosol for the second time within a fortnight winning 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in one hour and 41 minutes, after he had defeated the Czech in the first round in Marseille last week.
Sixth seed Feliciano López defeated British qualifier James Ward winning 6-4, 6-4. The Spaniard, currently ranked on a career high 13th position fired 13 aces to seal victory in 90 minutes.
For the youngsters, it became a tough day in the desert.
Roberto Bautista-Agut beat 21-year-old Dominic Thiem for the third time this season. The Spaniard won the two previous encounters at the Australian Open as well as in Marseille a few days ago and also emerged victorious in Dubai when he capitalized on all of his three break points winning 6-3, 6-2 in 50 minutes.
21-year-old David Goffin lost in straight sets 2-6, 5-7 to wild card Marcos Baghdatis in only 71 minutes and French qualifier Lucas Pouille, at the same age as the Belgian, suffered defeat in only 57 minutes against Italian Simone Bolelli losing 3-6, 3-6.
17-year-old wild card Alexander Zverev was not able to repeat his win from Marseille last week, as this time he was defeated by Marsel Ilhan 1-6, 6-7. The Turkish qualifier lost his service only once and converted 57% of his break point chances to seal victory in 76 minutes.
The other teenager in the draw, Borna Coric, is the only young gun, who advanced to the second round on Tuesday. The 18-year-old Croat overcame Malek Jaziri from a set down winning 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 50 minutes. Coric has entered the main draw as lucky loser substituting Philipp Kohlschreiber, who was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to fever.
It was also announced that the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships collected the ATP World Tour 500 award for a seventh straight year and 11th time overall (2003-06, 2008-14). “We are honoured to receive the award for Best Tournament in the ATP 500 category for the 11th time,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free. “Every year we endeavour to ensure that the players have a fantastic experience when they come to Dubai, and that they all enjoy a very relaxed and friendly environment. Having our tournament hotel on site, the five-star Jumeirah Creekside, has enhanced their experience here, and has been very well received by the players.”