DUBAI, February 26, 2019 (Press Release)
Top seed Kei Nishikori celebrated his debut at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday by defeating Benoit Paire 6-4 6-3 to reach the second round.
The world No. 6 earned the only break of the first set to lead 2-1 but then had to fight off seven break points before holding serve in the next game. In the second set Paire was clearly bothered by a problem with his right knee as Nishikori broke to lead 3-2, and a third break in the final game secured victory.
First match in Dubai ✅
First win in Dubai ✅
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 26. Februar 2019
“Never easy playing Benoit, of course. Great serve, great backhand. Tricky player. Good dropshot, good touch,” said Nishikori. “First set I think the key was the longest game, I think 2-1. Able to get the game. I was more confident. If he broke back, anything can happen. Yeah, it was good match. Never easy with this wind. First time playing this tournament. But, yeah, think played good enough tennis today.”
Eighth seed Daniil Medvedev followed fourth seed Karen Khachanov and seventh seed Milos Raonic out of the tournament as he fell to qualifier Ricardas Berankis 6-3 6-3.
Medvedev had made an impressive start to the season, reaching the Brisbane final, the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time at the Australian Open, before lifting his fourth career title in Sofia and then reaching the semi-finals of Rotterdam. But Berankis had a plan to stop his run of successes.
“Yeah, was feeling good today,” said Berankis. “Really happy with my game today. I was able to make the whole plan, what I was planning to do before the match. Yeah, it worked out. The plan was to stay as close as possible and not to get in his game, which is to get into those long rallies which he loves. Actually towards the end, he was able to start doing that, but he was going full power, so it was quite risky from his side. I stayed against it, yeah.”
In other matches, another qualifier also advanced as Egor Gerasimov defeated 2017 semi-finalist Robin Haase 7-6 7-6, Denis Kudla fought his way to a 2-6 7-5 7-5 win over Matteo Berrettini and Hubert Hurkacz earned a second round meeting with Nishikori by beating qualifier Corentin Moutet 6-3 7-5.
“We congratulate Kei Nishikori on his first match win in Dubai and look forward to seeing how he progresses in the days ahead,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “The tournament has already produced some surprises and it will be fascinating to see who will manage to survive and reach Saturday’s final.”
“We lost two seeds on day one and now another has fallen,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “Daniil Medvedev has been in particularly good form this season, but with such a strong field competing here this week no player is guaranteed of success.”