Dubai Duty Free Championships: Federer overcomes Kohlschreiber challenge to advance

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A fine win for Roger Federer at Dubai.

Roger Federer started his pursuit of a 100th ATP title with a three-set victory over Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Championships.

The seven-time champion at Dubai had to battle swirly conditions to ultimately prevail 6-4, 3-6 and 6-1 over the German.

Seeded second in the tournament, Federer was broken thrice on his serve in the second set as Kohlschreiber rallied back strongly. However, the Swiss then turned on the style in the deciding set to book his passage to the second round where he will be up against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.

It took the 20-time Grand Slam winner just over an hour and a half to extinguish the 31st ranked German’s challenge at the Aviation Club.

While expressing his relief at overcoming the first hurdle in tricky conditions, Federer conceded that Kohlschreiber had posed a tricky test.

“I’m just happy to get through, it was tricky conditions out there,” the Swiss was quoted as saying by AFP.

“Philipp caused me a lot of trouble and we played in swirly conditions. All of a sudden it (the wind) could stop and you could be a break down. That also plays in your head a little bit.

“I know the game’s there. It was just really difficult conditions tonight.”

Meanwhile, Federer’s second-round opponent Verdasco lost the first set again Thomas Fabbiano before coming back from behind to win 3-6, 6-3 and 6-2.

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Roberto Bautista Agut wants to become golden oldie like Roger Federer

Chris Bailey 25/02/2019
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during day nine of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 22, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.

Roberto Bautista Agut is in the form of his life as a 30-year-old – and he believes it is no coincidence that some of the world’s best players are in their fourth decade.

Lacoste ambassador Bautista Agut is in the UAE this week to defend his Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title among a strong field including all-time great Roger Federer, No.1 seed Kei Nishikori and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who defeated the Spaniard at the Australian Open quarter-finals last month.

The start of the season has brought some stunning success for world No.18 Bautista Agut, not least by overcoming Novak Djokovic in the process of soaring to the Doha title in early January.

Djokovic, 31, 37-year-old Federer and 32-year-old Rafael Nadal have continued their dominance over men’s tennis into their ‘golden years’, having locked up the last nine major titles between them.

And while Bautista Agut – who is 31 in April – is still searching for an appearance at a major final, he sees no reason why he can’t follow their lead and continue to improve the older he gets.

“These days there is more injury prevention, we have healthier lifestyles, and very good preparation,” said Bautista Agut, who was speaking from the Lacoste Lounge ahead of his first-round match with India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan on Monday.

“Now the players are getting a different mentality because they start to feel good when they’re over 30. I think I still have some good years left to prove my abilities.

“I’ve had a really good start to the season, I had two months at home (in Spain) and I spent almost four weeks of vacation there, which is rare in a tennis career.  Aferwards I had one month of practice in December and prepared well to start the season.”

Bautista Agut played in his first-ever quarter-final of a Grand Slam in defeat to Greek youngster Tsitsipas.

In Melbourne he also overcame former champion Andy Murray – who was visibly struggling with his longstanding hip injury – in an emotional five-setter, as well as beating home favourite John Millman and Croatia’s Marin Cilic over five sets.

And Bautista Agut puts his mental resilience down to old-fashioned hard work.

“Everything is about work, about being well prepared and also I become very calm when the emotions are out there,” he added. “It was a good challenge for me and I think I did really well.

“I think not easy to talk about these things (reaching the final of a major), I think the Australian Open was a really good week for me, a really good tournament.

“I hope I can play more of these rounds in the next years of my career.”

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Tunisia's Malek Jaziri continues surprise run as he reaches Dubai semi-finals

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Malek Jaziri's surprise run in Dubai just won't end.

Tunisian outsider Malek Jaziri continued his surprise run at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships by beating Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday to reach the semi-finals.

The 34-year-old wildcard will next face third seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat Croatian Borna Coric 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.

Jaziri overcame a second-set blip to see off qualifier Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 and reach the third semi-final of his career.

Jaziri, who began his week by knocking out world number four Grigor Dimitrov in the first round, is the first Arab player to get this far in Dubai since Moroccan Younes El Aynaoui in 2002, who reached the final and lost to France’s Fabrice Santoro.

The world number 117 is now just one win away from reaching his first-ever ATP Tour final.

“It was a big fight today, not that easy at all,” Jaziri said. “I finished very late yesterday. I think I was in bed at 2:30, so I didn’t sleep a lot.

“I tried to recover the most, I had to get ready today. It wasn’t easy, I had less than 17 hours.

“I was up and down little bit today. But I’m happy to win this match.”

French second seed Lucas Pouille was due to face the Japanese eighth seed Yuichi Sugita later.

Bautista Agut overcame Coric, who made his name in Dubai three years ago when he knocked out three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray.

The Spaniard, who won the Auckland title in January, broke the Croatian twice to ensure his eighth win of the season.

“I am happy, I played very good tennis,” Bautista Agut said. “It was not easy to beat Borna. He’s very solid.

“He was playing very good serves. He was playing very aggressive – it’s my best match of the tournament.”

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