Wawrinka struggles past Stakhovsky
Ukranian stretches Swiss star in an explosive battle
It was a rare sight. The Centre Court of the Dubai Tennis Stadium was turned into a battleground by two players with explosive one-handed backhands!
Stanislas Wawrinka had never won a first round match at the Dubai Tennis Championships.
And it seemed he would suffer another defeat on Tuesday when the fearless Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky matched him shot for shot.
The two-time Grand Slam winner somehow weathered the storm to take the match to a third set only to find himself in a desperate fight in the 10th game of the decider to stay in the match.
Serving at 0-30, he conjured up a magical backhand pass and went on to hold his serve and take the next two games to win a really tough three-set match (5-7 6-3 7-5).
Earlier, Tomas Berdych made Portugal's Joao Sousa feel the heat under a pretty strong Dubai sun.
The two-time Dubai finalist effortlessly made the transition from indoor to outdoor with an easy 6-1 6-4 win in the first round.
"It was my first match after the indoor tournament in Marseille last week. Luckily it was not so complicated," Berdych later told reporters.
"The first set went quite well for me. But in the second set, he started to play a little bit more solid from his forehand side, which is his stronger side," said Berdych who broke his opponent four times in a match that lasted only 70 minutes.
In the first match of the day on the centre court, fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut showed the kind of form that has fetched him two titles already this year. The Spaniard was too good for Italian Simone Bolelli as he won 6-2 6-4.
"I served really well today. I think I played very solid during the match. I was returning well and putting a lot of pressure on him," the world number 18 said after the match.
"I got more confidence after getting the early break (in the first set) and began serving really well."
His next opponent will be the talented South Korean teenager Hyeon Chung. "It's going to be a difficult match. He's a very good player on hard court. He's winning a lot of matches. He has a really good backhand and he moves well. So it's going to be a very difficult match."
Veteran German Philipp Kohlschreiber will also face a massive battle in the next round against emerging Croat Borna Coric.
It was pretty easy for Kohlschreiber in his 6-1 7-5 first round win over Turkish wildcard Marsel Ilhan. But Coric, who beat Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic 6-4 6-4 in another first round clash, might prove to be too hot to handle for the German.
Meanwhile, two qualifiers - Thomas Fabbiano of Italy and Franko Skugor of Croatia - had a day to remember as they both entered the second round of the competition.
Fabbiano beat Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-3 6-4 while Skugor defeated Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-2 6-3.
Skugor's reward is now a second round clash with Wawrinka, the man with that magical one-handed backhand!
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