Dubai Tennis: Sinner sets up mouthwatering Murray clash

In their only previous encounter, Murray beat Sinner 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 at the Stockholm Open last year


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Jannik Sinner of Italy hits a return to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain. (AP)
Jannik Sinner of Italy hits a return to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain. (AP)

Published: Tue 22 Feb 2022, 11:56 PM

Last updated: Wed 23 Feb 2022, 12:15 AM

Jannik Sinner, the rising star in world tennis, set up a mouthwatering clash with British veteran Andy Murray with a hard-fought three-set win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Second seed Andrey Rublev of Russia escaped the drama of a third set in his 6-4 7-5 win over Britain’s Danny Evans.

But the 20-year-old Sinner, the fourth seed in Dubai, needed to save three match points in a dramatic second set tie-break before clinching the deal in three sets 4-6 7-6 (8/6) 6-3.

While Rublev, the world number seven, will take on Soonwoo Kwon of South Korea in the next round on Wednesday, Sinner faces Murray, the 34-year-old three-time Grand Slam champion who is trying to regain his top form following two critical hip surgeries.

In their only previous encounter, Murray beat Sinner 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 at the Stockholm Open last year.

“I lost the last one in Stockholm. It's going to be very difficult for me. Everyone knows how big he is as a champion. Obviously he's a big fighter. It's going to be tough,” said Sinner who grew up in the northern region of Italy where skiing, not tennis, was his big passion as a kid.

“I'm expecting a very tough match tomorrow, so I try to be ready for a long match.”

In the last match of the night, sixth seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada beat Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 4-6 6-4 7-5.

Karatsev knocked out

Last year’s champion Aslan Karatsev of Russia and runner-up Lloyd Harris of South Africa crashed out of the championships on Tuesday.

Karatsev, the seventh seed in Dubai and world number 22, was powerless against unseeded American Mackenzie McDonald in a tame 7-5 6-3 defeat on the Centre Court.

On Court three, Harris, the world number 35, went down in straight sets (6-3 6-3) to Lucy Loser Alex Molcan of Slovakia.

Last year, Karatsev made history at the Australian Open by becoming the first qualifier to reach the semifinal on Grand Slam debut before winning his first ATP singles title in Dubai.

The 28-year-old Russian went on to enjoy great success last year and even stunned Novak Djokovic in the semifinal of the Serbia Open.

But on Tuesday, Karatsev struggled to cope with the power and precision of McDonald, the 26-year-old American who is making his Dubai debut.

“I am very happy with my performance in both the sets,” said McDonald who avenged his Australian Open second round defeat to Karatsev.

“He (Karatsev) is a super tough player, especially on these fast courts. It was fast too in Australia, and he really took the game away. It was almost the same here (in the first set), so I took my time and then pressed.”

In another early first round clash, Karen Khachanov of Russia overcame the challenge of Australia’s Alex de Minaur in three sets 6-3 6-7 (1/7) 7-5.


Singles first round


(7) Aslan Karatsev (RUS) beat Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 7-5 6-3

Alex Molcan (SVK) beat Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-3 6-3

Karen Khachanov (RUS) beat Alex de Minaur (AUS) 6-3 6-7 (1/7) 7-5

(4) Jannik Sinner (ITA) beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 4-6 7-6 (8/6) 6-3

(2) Andrey Rublev (RUS) beat Danny Evans (GBR) 6-4 7-5

(5) Hubert Hurkacz (POL) beat Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-3 6-1

(8) Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) beat Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 6-3 6-4

(6) Denis Shapovalov (CAN) beat Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 4-6 6-4 7-5

(LL) Alexei Popyrin (AUS) beat Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-2 6-3

Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) beat Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-3 6-2

[Q] Ricardas Berankis (LTU) beat Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-1 3-6 6-3





(WC) A. Murray (GBR) vs (4) J. Sinner (ITA)

Not Before 4:00 pm

S. Kwon (KOR) vs (2) A. Rublev (RUS)

Not Before 7:00 pm

(1) N. Djokovic (SRB) vs K. Khachanov (RUS)

(Q) T. Daniel (JPN) vs D. Shapovalov (CAN)

COURT 1 start 2:00 pm

(5) H. Hurkacz (POL) vs [LL] A. Molcan (SVK)

M. McDonald (USA) vs F. Krajinovic (SRB)

(LL) A. Popyrin (AUS) vs (Q) R. Berankis (LTU)

(Q) J. Vesely (CZE) vs (8) R. Bautista Agut (ESP)

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