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Dubai Tennis: Rublev extends streak to 21 wins; Nishikori stuns Goffin

Andrey Rublev hits a backhand return at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday. (ATP Twitter)
Andrey Rublev hits a backhand return at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday. (ATP Twitter)

Dubai - Russian wildcard Aslan Karatsev knocked out last year's semifinalist Daniel Evans of Britain

By James Jose

Published: Tue 16 Mar 2021, 9:26 PM

Last updated: Tue 16 Mar 2021, 9:39 PM

Second seeded Russian Andrey Rublev continued his hot streak in ATP 500 events by getting past Emil Ruusuvuori in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

The world No.8, who is eyeing a fifth straight ATP 500 title, won 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 16 minutes, against the Finnish qualifier in a second round match on Centre Court at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre.

It extended the 23-year-old Muscovite’s run to 21 successive wins in ATP 500 events. Rublev broke Ruusuvuori in the opening game to take the first set 6-4 in 37 minutes and then broke the world No.87 again in the seventh game of the set to clinch the match.

Rublev, quarterfinalist at the Australian Open this year, will go up against 15th seeded American Taylor Fritz, who beat Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), in the Round of 16.

Meanwhile, 2014 US Open runner-up Japan’s Kei Nishikori stunned Belgian fifth seed David Goffin 6-3, 7-6 (3), in an hour and 53 minutes.

Elsewhere, third seeded Canadian Denis Shapovalov booked his berth in the third round with a straight-set victory over Jan-Lennard Struff.

The world No.12, who reached the quarterfinals of the US Open last year, beat the German 6-1, 6-3 in just 61 minutes, in the second round match on Centre Court.

The 21-year-old, making his Dubai debut, will now take on Polish 13th seed Hubert Hurkacz in the round of 16. Hurkacz, the world No.35 breezed past French veteran Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-4 in 67 minutes, in the second round, on Court 1.

In another match, on Court 3, 17th-seeded Italian Lorenzo Sonego scored a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Spanish qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles in an hour and 16 minutes.

“There is no secret,” Rublev said when asked about his streak.

“It just happened. I was not focused on this. It just happened that I did well in these tournaments and I am really happy,” he added.

Rublev, who has now 14 of his 16 matches this season, said that he hadn’t kept count himself and became aware of it through the media.

“We will see what is going to happen. Until (the media) started to write that I won 17 matches, 18 matches, 19 matches, I was not even realising that I did this. I am realising it now. I am really happy that it happened to me. I am really happy that I achieved something that Andy did, because it is not easy,” said Rublev, who tied with Scotsman Andy Murray for the second-longest winning run since 2009. The inimitable Roger Federer holds sole ownership at the top with 28 victories.

Shapovalov, meanwhile, was relieved to get the better of Struff. “It definitely wasn’t an easy win, as I’ve struggled against Struff in the past,” said Shapovalov.

“I was a little bit nervous at the beginning, but I got through those emotions and I’m very happy with the win. I picked my spots on serve and made as many returns as I could. The courts are quick, so it suits my game,” he added.

Meanwhile, Russian wildcard Aslan Karatsev knocked out last year’s semifinalist 12th seed Daniel Evans of Britain 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

In another match Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri went down to 11th seeded Serbian Dusan Lajovic 7-5, 6-2, in 67 minutes, on Court 2.

Eighth seed Russia’s Karen Khachanov halted former Dubai ball boy Alexei Popyrin’s run, beating the Australian over a tightly-fought three-setter. Khachanov prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (4), on Court 1.

Italian 16th seed Jannik Sinner rallied from a set down to beat Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4.

In a late night first-round match on Monday, Hungarian Marton Fucsovics bounced back from a set down to defeat Canadian Vasek Pospisil 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 in a match that lasted two hours and 11 minutes.


Tuesday (x denotes seeding):

2nd round

Aljaz Bedene (SLO) bt Lorenzo Giustino (ITA) 6-4, 6-3

Denis Shapovalov (CAN x3) bt Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-1, 6-3

Hubert Hurkacz (POL x13) bt Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-3, 6-4

Karen Khachanov (RUS x8) bt Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4)

Lorenzo Sonego (ITA x17) bt Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-2, 6-2

Aslan Karatsev (RUS) bt Dan Evans (GBR x12) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4

Jannik Sinner (ITA x16) bt Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 2-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4

Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x4) bt Matthew Ebden (AUS) 4-1 - retired

Marton Fucsovics (HUN) bt Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP x6) 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-2

Dusan Lajovic (SRB x11) bt Malek Jaziri (TUN) 7-5, 6-2

Taylor Fritz (USA x15) bt Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)

Andrey Rublev (RUS x2) bt Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-4, 6-4


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