Jannik Sinner in action against Roberto Bautista Agut during their Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship match on Wednesday.
Amir Naqvi, Sports Editor
Second seed Andrey Rublev clinched his quarter-finals spot with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Taylor Fritz at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship on Wednesday.
Earlier, rising Italian star Jannik Sinner booked a berth in the quarter-finals after outlasting former champion Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in a thriller.
Making his tournament debut this week, the 19-year-old Sinner took two hours, 24 minutes to battle past the fourth seed at the Centre Court.
He will next face wildcard entry Aslan Karatsev, who defeated 17th seed Lorenzo Sonego 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to advance to his first ATP 500 quarter-final.
The 16th seed Sinner won a closely contested first set after claiming the only break in the ninth game before serving out the opener. The 2018 Dubai winner bounced back with a break in the penultimate game of the second before serving out the set.
In the deciding set, Sinner held the advantage by breaking to lead 4-2 and, although Bautista Agut brought it back to 4-4, a double fault at 6-5 gave Sinner a match point and ticket for the last eight.
“Roberto (Bautista Agut) is an incredible player, very solid,” said Sinner. “For me, personally, it has been tough to have the right balance on court, not going for too much and not going too slow. So I think that was the key today.
“I am looking for these kinds of tough matches in order to improve. I am happy to have won and can play one more match here tomorrow. I tried to control my emotions as much as possible, which helped me a lot,” said the Italian, who is the youngest player to break into the top-100 after bagging trophies in Sofia and Melbourne within the last six months.
Competing in his 200th career match, the third seed Denis Shapovalov also advanced to the quarter-finals with a 6-4 6-3 win over Hubert Hurkacz.
The world No.12 from Canada dominated the proceedings in both the sets to beat an opponent he had lost to in their two previous meetings.
Performing under the watchful eyes of coach and former two-time Dubai finalist Mikhail Youzhny, the 21-year-old broke the Pole in the third game and fought off a breakpoint to hold 5-3 before securing the set.
In the second set, the Canadian Shapovalov again broke for 2-1, and although he failed to convert three more breakpoints at 3-1 he broke serve once more in the final game to seal the victory against world No.35 Hurkacz in 71 minutes.
“I played some really good tennis,” said Shapovalov. “Obviously I have struggled against Hubert in the past and he’s such a great player. He’s got great weapons and is really tough to play against so I’m really happy to get my first win against him.
“I think every day is different. I happened to feel it yesterday, I happened to feel it today, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to feel it tomorrow. I’m just going to go on the court and find a way to win and fight every point.” Shapovalov will now play Jeremy Chardy, who scraped past eighth-seeded Karen Khachanov 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4 to reach his third quarter-final of the season.
The Frenchman has seemingly carried his rich vein of form into the tournament. After beating Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the first round, Chardy came back from a set down in each of his next two matches to defeat 9th seed Alex de Minaur and Khachanov.
“I am feeling really tired now,” said Chardy. “It was a big battle today and very intense. We were both serving really well and we had to be both stay focused. I think I gave everything on the court today and I am really happy with my performance.”
Shapovalov leads Chardy by a margin of 2-0 in the head-to-head. Both of Shapovalov’s wins over the Frenchman came in 2018.
“I will fight again as Denis (Shapalov) is one of the best players on the Tour,” said the 34-year-old.
The world No.53 fired 19 aces but had to battle for two hours 35 minutes to edge the world No.22 from Russia.
Khachanov failed to win the only break point of the opening set before claiming the tiebreak. The first break of the match didn’t come until late in the second set when Chardy took a 5-4 lead and served out to level the match, and just one break settled the deciding set.
Japan’s Kei Nishikori downed Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene 6-4, 6-4 to reach the last eight.
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