Medvedev rallies to beat Sonego, Rublev enters last 8 - GulfToday

Medvedev rallies to beat Sonego, Rublev enters last 8

Andrey Rublev returns the ball to Arthur Cazaux during their Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships match on Wednesday. Associated Press

Andrey Rublev returns the ball to Arthur Cazaux during their Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships match on Wednesday. Associated Press

Amir Naqvi, Sports Editor

Top seed Daniil Medvedev rallied from a set down to defeat Lorenzo Sonego 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday, booking his place in the quarter-finals.

Playing in the first tournament since losing the Australian Open final, the top seed took two hours to beat the World No.48.

Medvedev initially faced challenges with his serve in the first set, which allowed Sonego to capitalise and claim the opening set 6-3.

However, the World No. 4 displayed remarkable grit, staging a comeback in the remaining two sets. He adopted a more aggressive strategy, and the tactical shift paid off as Medvedev gained the decisive break of the second set in the eighth game before breaking his Italian rival twice in the decider to advance.

 “I went to court and was not feeling right. I was too nervous and too tight, which does not happen often to me,” said the 2021 US Open winner.

“I was making a lot of mistakes and nervous. Sometimes it takes a set to calm down, and if I continue to do what I did in the first set, that is not going to work. I just had to change. To be more calm, and if that doesn’t work, it is his day, but it worked,” he added.

Fifth seed Ugo Humbert knocked out Andy Murray 6-2, 6-4 to advance into the next round of the tournament.

Murray’s struggles against Humbert were evident in the opening set, where he relinquished his serve twice in a row.

Humbert, broke the Murray serve twice and took the opening set 6-2. The second set offered a glimmer of hope, showcasing a closer contest. However, the 2017 champion’s frustration became clear as he struck the umpire’s chair in a moment of exasperation. Humbert’s consistent, clean hitting proved too much for Murray, securing the Frenchman a victory within an hour and a half.

 “Consistency has been the key for me this year,” said Humbert. “I’m really happy that I’m playing well. It’s really nice to play in a venue like this in front of a great crowd. I was really calm today and knew what I needed to do,” he added.

Earlier, second seed Andrey Rublev cruised into the quarter-finals after sweeping aside qualifier Arthur Cazaux 6-4, 6-4.

The 2022 Dubai champion took 78 minutes to beat Cazaux, who was making his debut in Dubai and had shown impressive form throughout the week, qualifying for the main draw and defeating Lorenzo Musetti in the first round.

The World No. 5 from Russia dominated the match from the start. He broke Cazaux’s serve in the first game and maintained control throughout the set, winning 6-4.

The second set remained on serve until the seventh game, when Rublev capitalised on another break opportunity. He held his remaining service games firmly to claim victory.

 “He was serving really well. He was making the first serves. I was lucky that in the first game of the match he didn’t make first serves and I guessed right and made great returns,” said Rublev.

 “I was able to break straightaway, and it gave me extra confidence, and I was able to play freely and I think that was the key,” he added.

Sebastian Korda stormed into the last eight following his easy win over Botic van de Zandschulp 6-1, 6-0 in just 43 minutes. Korda, ranked 33, will now face a tougher challenge in the next round as he takes on Rublev.

Seventh seed Alexader Bublik booked his place in the quarter-finals with a 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (7-2) victory over Tallon Griekspoor.

Bulbik will next meet Jiri Lehecka, who pulled off a thrilling upset victory over Qatar Open winner Karen Khachanov.

The two-hour, 57-minute marathon saw Lehecka edge past the fourth seed 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Lehecka’s fighting spirit shone brightly as he staved off five match points in the second set, refusing to concede defeat. He then rallied from a 2-4 deficit in the third set to seal the win.

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