DUBAI, February 22, 2022 (DDFT Press Release)
Andrey Rublev made a winning start to his bid for a second title in two weeks as he defeated Daniel Evans 6-4, 7-5 on Tuesday to reach the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
The No. 2 seed from Russia arrived in Dubai in the early hours of Tuesday morning after winning both the singles and doubles titles in Marseille, the first time in his career that he has claimed both titles in the same week. But he showed no sign of fatigue during a high quality performance in which he was challenged admirably by Evans.
Rublev needed two attempts to take the opening set, breaking to lead 5-3, allowing Evans to break back but then breaking serve again at 5-4. In the second set, Evans broke to lead 2-1 but immediately dropped his own serve at love. Evans then came under immense pressure as the set moved to its climax, with Rublev holding four match points on Evans’ serve at 5-4 before closing out the match with his seventh match point at 6-5.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 22, 2022
“I’m coming here from indoor. I arrive at 2 a.m. to the hotel. I was playing the same day. I was thinking I have no chance,” said Rublev. “Now, I don’t know, I win the match. I’m super happy because I didn’t expect this. Was good rallies, many good points. In the end I win the match and now I’m really happy.”
Aslan Karatsev’s defence of his title ended in frustration when he was defeated 7-5, 6-3 by Mackenzie McDonald. His opponent in the 2021 final, Lloyd Harris, was also beaten as he went down 6-3, 6-3 to Alex Molcan in just 65 minutes.
Seventh seeded Karatsev, who defeated Andy Murray in last month’s Sydney final, failed to capitalise on his chances in a long and dramatic sixth game of the match, which went to deuce seven times and in which Karatsev held five break points for a 4-2 lead before McDonald held with his fourth game point.
Games continued to go with serve until 5-5, when McDonald broke for 6-5 and then not only served out for the set but won a total of seven straight games as he swept to a 4-0 lead in the second set. Karatsev then staged an ambitious recovery bid, winning the next three games and holding a break point for 4-4. McDonald though held on to lead 5-3 and then broke his frustrated opponent once more to claim the match.
Jannik Sinner came close to following Karatsev to the exit as he faced down three match points before emerging with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in a draining two hours 31 minutes.
Davidovich Fokina, who broke in the final game of the first set and then held a 6-3 lead in the second set tiebreak before Sinner edged it 8-6. Then just one break of serve separated them in the final set.
“I just was trying to stay focused on the present because obviously the match was very, very close. He was one point away. I just tried,” said Sinner. “I was lucky also a little bit because the first match point he played out which was not so far. But then I think the rest I played quite well. In the third set I felt more comfortable and I raised the level.”
“We have once again enjoyed great drama at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “Many matches are so closely fought and we have witnessed some outstanding battles which have swung first with one player and then the other. We can anticipate more such matches in the days ahead and look forward to finding who will progress to the final.”
Karen Khachanov was another who became embroiled in a fight to survive as he needed two hours 46 minutes to overcome Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-7, 7-5. Khachanov claimed the first set and came within two points of victory in the second as he led 6-5, but de Minaur took the set to a tiebreak which he swept 7-1. Khachanov once again led 6-5 in the final set and this time he broke serve to close out the contest on his third match point.
In another battle that hung in the balance until the very end, sixth seed Denis Shapovalov needed two hours 27 minutes to beat Marton Fucsovics 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, but former champion and last week’s Doha winner Roberto Bautista Agut was a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 winner over Arthur Rinderknech.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 22, 2022
“It was always going to be a huge challenge for Aslan Karatsev to successfully defend his title here, and despite his best efforts he was unable to overcome a difficult and determined opponent,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “Competition among the players is fierce and today has certainly proved that every point has to be fought very hard for, and that provides great entertainment for everyone.
“With so many great battles yet to come this week, we again urge tennis fans wishing to see some of the world’s top stars in action to purchase their tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.”
Tickets can be purchased through the official tournament website and Platinum list, or simply drop by the Box Office at the stadium.