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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday March 17, 2021

 
Andrey Rublev

Andrey Rublev continued his relentless surge at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday, powering past Taylor Fritz in straights.

Photo Source: Getty Images

On Wednesday after his 6-3, 6-1 victory over Taylor Fritz in Dubai, Russia’s Andrey Rublev confessed to reporters that he is afraid of realizing that he has been more lucky than good over these last two seasons.

Tennis Express

Now 56-12 since the start of 2020, the trend has been Rublev’s friend, but he still believes that his fortunes could turn on a dime if he doesn’t consider continue following through on his obsessive desire to improve every aspect of his game. It's a healthy paranoia that he shares with his biggest tennis idol, Rafael Nadal. Well, healthy if your goal is domination on a tennis court...

Rublev, who earned his 22nd consecutive ATP-500 win on Wednesday in Dubai, may be motivated by fear, but the real fear shows up on the other side of the court in his opponents who often find themselves woefully unprepared to go toe-to-toe with the rapidly rising Russian.

That was the case today as Rublev plowed past Fritz, saving all six break points he faced (while serving at 3-1 in the second set) and blasting 28 winners (including 18 service winners) against just 15 unforced errors.

Rublev needed just 64 minutes to finish off the 30th-ranked American for his 15th win against just two losses in 2021.

Rublev will look to strike more fear into his opponents on Thursday when he faces Marton Fucsovics in the quarters. The Russian defeated the Hungarian en route to the Rotterdam title a few weeks ago.

Quarters set at Dubai

Italy's Jannik Sinner scored an impressive upset over Roberto Bautista Agut on Wednesday, lending further proof to the notion that he is indeed the leader of the Italian tennis renaissance (but watch out for Lorenzo Musetti, the kid has GAME!). Today's 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory improves sinner’s all-time record against the ATP’s Top 20 to 7-10.

He popped 16 aces against the World No.11 and will face Russia’s Aslan Karatsev next.


"Today I tried to play aggressive, especially on the return games, trying to a little bit more, then at some point I played a little bit slower, just changing a little bit of the rhythm I think today was the key,” Sinner told reporters after the match.

The 19-year-old is looking forward to his first meeting with Karatsev, who defeated Lorenzo Sonego on Wednesday, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.


“Obviously next match is a tough one, he is in confidence, he was playing very great in Australia, an incredible run, and, as I said, now he is in confidence and he's very tough to beat, so I think it's going to be a very different match than today," Sinner said. "I know he's a big server, playing very, very vast, so it's going to be different, I'm excited to get to know him in a tournament, we practiced together many years, not many, I think it was four or five years ago in a futures event, I practiced there with him. I think some things changed about how he is playing and how I am playing so I'm excited to get to know him in a tournament."

Denis Shapovalov also continued his bristling form on Wednesday, racing past Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-3 to book his 21st career ATP quarterfinal. The Canadian will take on France’s Jeremy Chardy in the last eight.

Kei Nishikori is another player who is rounding into form, and the Japanese star picked up another nice win on Wednesday, defeating Aljaz Bedene, 6-4 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal with Lloyd Harris.

Nishikori says his serve in the early going was a pleasant surprise, and his backhand made the difference down the stretch.

"First set I think I played perfect, especially my serve was, I felt one of the best serving of the last couple tournaments,” he said. “I was feeling it pretty good, first serve. He was still missing a couple of returns, so it was easier for me. But second set he was playing much better, less unforced errors and playing aggressive and I was kind of, I played too perfect kind of in the first set, so I think I dropped a little bit my level and I was kind of defensive many times, but last couple of games was tough. He was pushing my service games, I was feeling pressure even when I was up 5-4 I thought a little bit about yesterday, I couldn't finish the match and I got a little bit tight, but luckily my backhand helped me to finish the match."

 

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