Open Looking Tournament in Dubai

The busy ATP circuit moves to Dubai this week. Last week Dubai held a WTA tournament, now it's time for the guys to have their turn. Of the players competing from Sunday 14 March to Saturday 20 March, only Roberto Bautista Agut is a former champion. Top seed is Dominic Thiem but he'll need to improve his form if wanting to win in Dubai for the first time.

We preview the tournament but keep on coming back throughout the week. We'll have daily updates on how this APT event progresses.

Contents

1 Seedings

2 The Draw

3 The Contenders for the title

4 Daily Updates

 

Seedings

1 Dominic Thiem - lost in second round

2 Andrey Rublev - beaten in semi-final

3 Denis Shapovalov - lost in semi-final

4 Roberto Bautista Agut - lost in round three

5 David Goffen - lost in second round

6 Pablo Carreno Busta - lost in second round

7 Stan Wawrinka  - withdrawn

8 Karen Khachanov - beaten in third round

9 Alex de Minaur - beaten in second round

10 Borna Coric - withdrew

11 Dusan Lajovic - quarter final loser

12 Dan Evans - beaten in round two

13 Hubert Hurkacz - beaten in round three

14 Filip Krajinovic - lost in round three

15 Taylor Fritz - lost in round three

16 Jannik Sinner - lost in quarter finals

17 Lorenzo Senego - lost in third round

 

The Draw

The draw has been made and there are some fascinating matches on the way. All the seeded players receive a bye through to the second round of this tournament. Number one seed Dominic Thiem is scheduled to face either a qualifier of a lucky loser in his first match. It's likely to get tougher in the last 16 with Filip Krajinovic his seeded opponent.

An interesting second round match sees Taylor Fritz up against Nikoloz Basilashvili. The pair met in the semi-final of the recent tournament in Doha. Basilashvili won that match and then beat Roberto Bautista Agut to win the title, can he repeat his success in Dubai?

If all the seedings went as planned (unlikely), the quarter final line-up is scheduled to be: Thiem v Goffin, Shapovalov v Khachanov, Evans v Agut and Busta v Rublev.

 

The Contenders

Dominic Thiem

Thiem is the number one seed but has to play better than he has this year. This is only his third singles tournament of the year. 2021 began with winning one of two matches in the ATP Cup. The Australian Open saw him lose in the last sixteen and in Doha, he lost to Roberto Bautista Agut in his second match. Thiem is yet to beat a top 20 ranked player this year. His draw isn't too bad but we need to see what form he's in before betting on him to win this title.

Andrey Rublev

Rublev is a strong contender to win this tournament. He's already had victories in the ATP Cup and the AMRO World Tennis tournament in 2021. Last week in Doha was a rather strange experience for the Russian. After a bye and two withdrawals, he found himself in the semi-final without playing a shot. He lost to Roberto Baustista Agut in straight sets but at least he shouldn't be too tired for this tournament. He's scheduled to meet Agut in the semi-final of this tournament too.

Denis Shapovalov

The third seed is in the same half of the draw as Dominic Thiem. It's not been a great 2021 for the Canadian, so perhaps he's due a good tournament. Both of his ATP Cup matches were lost and he was beaten in the last 32 of the Australian Open.

Since then, Shapovalov has only played the tournament in Doha last week. He won his first match but then lost to Taylor Fritz in the quarter finals. Having lost more matches than he's won this year, Shapovalov is another who needs to improve his form. Jan-Lennard Struff is a potential first opponent, so he'll need to be in good form right from the start.

Roberto Bautista Agut

The Spaniard comes into this event as the only former winner. He nearly won another tournament in Doha on Saturday but lost in straight sets to Nikoloz Basilashvili. Agut  Before that he also lost in the Montpellier final to David Goffin. He looks one of the more consistent players in this event and is set for another match with Andrey Rublev, who he beat in Doha. Unless tired from his Doha exploits, he can again go deep in this tournament.

David Goffin

Another player who has already won a title this year. He won the Montpellier title but has only won two matches since that victory. The Doha tournament saw him beaten by Taylor Fritz in his second match. A first match against Reilly Opelka or Kei Nishikori (find out how they get on in our Sunday update) isn't going to be an easy one. Dominic Thiem is his seeded quarter final opponent.

Pablo Carreno Busta

The number six seed is currently ranked 16th.  He's playing his first tournament since reaching the last 32 at the Australian Open being beaten by Grigor Dimitrov. He hasn't beaten a player ranked above him since a win over Gael Monfils last October.  Busta needs to recapture the form that took him to the US Open semi-final and quarter final in the French Open. A possible quarter final with Andrey Rublev looks tough though.

Nikoloz Basilashvili

Not seeded for this tournament but the Doha winner is the man in form. He beat Roger Federer last week and then Roberto Bautista Agut in the final. After all that effort it's possible he might withdraw from this tournament but if he doesn't, he could again be a threat. Difficult draw for him though including that rematch with Taylor Fritz we previously mentioned.

A fascinating week lies ahead of us. There may not be a Djokovic, Medvedev, Nadal or Federer but that makes for an open tournament. Keep coming back to this page for the daily updates beginning on Sunday 14 March.

Daily Updates

Day One - Sunday 14 March

It's the first round in Dubai with the seeded players all receiving byes. Kei Nishikori had a tough three set win over Reilly Opelka. He had to come from a set down to clinch a second round match against the fifth seeded David Goffin.

Earlier this year, Aslan Karatsev reached the semi-final of the Australian Open. He won his first round match in this tournament, beating Egor Gerasimov in straight sets. His second round opponent is 12th seeded Dan Evans.

Day Two - Monday 15 March

Richard Gasquet withdrew from last week's tournament in Doha. However, he got this week off to a good start with a straight sets victory over Marco Cecchinato. He now takes on 13th seeded Hubert Hurkacz. 

Number one seed Dominic Thiem now knows his second round opponent. He'll be facing Lloyd Harris who came from a set down to beat Australian Chris O'Connell.

Aljaz Bedene lost the first set of his match against qualifier Yuki Bhambri. He now faces tenth seeded Borna Coric in round two.

Alex de Minaur became the first seeded player to lose. The ninth seeded Australian lost to Jeremy Chardy despite winning the first set. Chardy is the world number 53 but  has reached  two semi-finals this year and recently reached the last eight in Rotterdam.

The final match on Monday saw a win for Marton Fucsovics. He beat Vasek Pospisil in another match where the winner lost the first set. Fucsovics is a dangerous player and recently lost in the Rotterdam final. He made the quarter finals in Doha last week but withdrew. Fucsovics now takes on sixth seed Pablo Correna Busta.

Day Three - Tuesday 16 March

It was a day of shocks at the Dubai Tennnis Championships. Top seed Dominic Thiem has had some poor form of late. His bad run continued as he lost in the second round to qualifier Lloyd Harris in straight sets. Harris now faces 14th seed Filip Krajinovic in the last 16. 

Fifth seed David Goffin is also out, he lost to Kei Nishikori in straight sets. His next opponent is Aljaz Bedene. The first quarter of the draw now has just one seed left, Filip Krajinovic.  

Pablo Correno Busta is also out after a second round defeat by Marton Fucsovics. That's despite winning the first set. He now takes on 11th seed Dusan Lajovic.

Taylor Fritz got some revenge on the Doha winner Nikoloz Basilashvili. He lost to him in last week's semi-final but the 15th seed beat him today. He did it the hard way, coming from a set down. Fritz faces Andrey Rublev in the last 16. The second seed beat Emil Ruusuvouri 6-4 6-4

Aslan Karatsev knocked out 12th seeded Dan Evans today. Karatsev reached the last four in this year's Australian Open and won today in three sets. Next up for Karatsev is 17th seeded Lorenzo Sonego who beat qualifier Bernabe Zapate Miralles for the loss of just two games. 

16th seed Jannik Sinner had a tough second round match against Alexander Bublik. He dropped the first set but battled back to get the win. A tough task awaits him in the next round as he's up against Roberto Bautista Agut. The Spaniard was 4-1 up in the first set against Matthew Ebden when his opponent retired. 

Other seeds through are Karen Khachanov who had to go to a third set tie-break to get past in-form Alexei Popyrin.  He is up against unseeded Jeremy Chardy in the last sixteen.

Denis Shapovalov only dropped four games in beating Jan-Lennard Struff. The third seed will face Hubert Hurkacz in the third round. The number 13 seed defeated Richard Gasquet in straight sets. 

Day Four - Wednesday 17 March

First winner of the day was Denis Shapovalov. The third seed beat Hubert Hurkacz (seeded 13th) in straight sets. He now faces Jeremy Chardy, the unseeded Frenchman knocked out eighth seeded Karen Khachanov, after coming from a set down.

Wednesday saw more shocks and by the end of it, just three seeds are left in the tournament. Qualifier Lloyd Harris disposed of 14th seeded Filip Krajinovic in straight sets. He takes on unseeded former top ten player Kei Nishikori who had a straight sets win over Aljaz Bedene.

Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev is on another good run. He defeated 17th seeded Lorenzo Senogo, despite going a  set down. His quarter final opponent is the 16th seed Jannik Sinner. He caused a big upset when knocking out fourth seeded Roberto Bautista Agut in three sets (middle set lost).

Another unseeded player through to the last eight is Marton Fucsovics. He beat 11th seeded Dusan Lajovic in three sets. He faces tournament favourite Andrey Rublev who beat Taylor Fritz for the loss of just four games. The match is a repeat of the recent final in Rotterdam where Rublev won in two close sets. The quarter finals take place on Thursday.

Day Five - Thursday 18 March

Third seeded Denis Shapovalov is the first player through to the semi-finals. He beat unseeded Jeremy Chardy in straight sets in his quarter final. It's his first semi-final since St Petersburg last October. He now takes on qualifier Lloyd Harris in the last four. The South African beat Kei Nishikori in three sets, dropping the middle one. The world number 81 lost in the first qualifying round in the tournament held in Doha last week. Last year he lost in the final of an Adelaide tournament.

Aslan Karatsev continued his impressive 2021 with a win over 16th seeded Jannik Sinner. He lost the first set on a tie-break but then dropped just five games in the next two sets. He now takes on second seeded Andrey Rublev who beat Marton Fucsovics in straight sets.

Day Six - Friday 19 March

The shocks continued today as world number 81 Lloyd Harris reached the final. He came from a set down to beat third seed Denis Shapovlov. The final set went to a tie-break, won 8-6 by the South African.

He takes on wild card Aslan Karatsev in the final who beat the second seeded Andrey Rublev in his semi-final. Karatsev won in three sets (middle set dropped) to cause yet another shock with all the seeds now knocked out.

Day Seven - Saturday 20 March

Aslan Karatsev became the Dubai Tennis Championships champion. The wild card beat qualifier Lloyd Harris 6-3, 6-2.

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