Last week before the start of Sunshine Double contains a lot good action in ATP with three tournaments being underway. The most prestigous one with the best players field takes place in Dubai, where top players compete in ATP 500 event. All the seeds of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships are ranked in top 20 of ATP list, while 4 of them are top 10 members.
Novak Djokovic headlines the draw as the top seed. World number's one, who celebrates the record 378th week of being the ATP ranking's leader, comes back to action after the stunningly succesful campaign in Australia, where he claimed the 10th's career title in Melbourne Park. Nole started his Dubai appearance from the match against qualifier Tomas Machac. No one before the match could give any chance for the Czech, ranked #130 in ATP list. The opening set has also not foreshadowed anything else than average day in the office for Djokovic, who took with 6-3 score. Then, the events took unexpected turns, as Machac started second set from an early break and raised his level for the top, keeping service till the end and forcing a sensational decider. Djokovic regrouped himself in 3rd set, gaining a break in 4th game, but Machac did not give up and leveled the score in 7th game. Both players kept their serves till the decisive tiebreak. The multi Grand Slam champ has proved his class though, giving any chance for his fiercy opponent, dominating tiebreak with a score 7-1 and moving into second round after much more effort needed than expected.
Second stop for Djokovic did not bring the emotions level any near to the first one, as the Serbian routined Tallon Griekspoor easily 6-2 6-3. Hubert Hurkacz will be Nole's quarterfinal opponent. The Pole played his first round match against Alexander Shevchenko - qualies lucky loser who replaced Andy Murray after his withdrawal from the tournament. Hurkacz struggled a lot despite being clear favorite against the world's number 119. Shevchenko surprisingly took the first set 6-3, but Hurkacz managed to force the decider with the same score in second one. As the third set could assume that favorite has gained control of this match with earning break advantage in 5th game, the Russian leveled the score and match needed to be settled in 3rd set tiebreak. Hurkacz denied the upset after utilizing third matchpoint and winning it 3-6 6-3 7-6(9) at the end. The world's number 11 advanced to QFs after defeating qualifier Pavel Kotov in second round 7-5 6-1.
Top half of the draw is stunningly strong, as despite Djokovic and Hurkacz, Daniil Medvedev is here on his current run of 11 wins in the row. Former world's ranking leader who has recently took the titles in Rotterdam and Doha, advanced into quarters in Dubai after straight set wins against Matteo Arnaldi and Alexander Bublik. Medvedev will be a favorite against Borna Coric who tries to recover after miserable start of the season. The Croatian advanced into second round after just 4 games of match against Daniel Evans who withdrew due to an injury. Coric prevailed against Thanasi Kokkinakis in his first full match in Dubai, winning 6-7(4) 6-3 7-5 and achieving his first quarterfinal of the season.
Alexander Zverev comes back on the winning track, achieving two victories in a row for the first time since the accident in last year's Roland Garros which ruled him out from the competition for a few months. The German fought back in a match against Jiri Lehecka, winning despite being a set down, 4-6 6-3 6-4. Zverev scored the comfortable win against Christopher Oconnell in 2nd round, winning 7-5 6-4 in just 80 minutes. Lorenzo Sonego will be his QF opponent. The Italian advanced to quarters after making quite an upset on tournament's seed #4 Felix Auger Aliassime. Sonego defeated the Canadian 7-6(4) 6-4 with an impressive performance, not allowing his favorized opponent to create any single breakpoint in the match.
Andrey Rublev made a fabulous comeback in his match against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on the road to quarters. The Russian started the match really slow with losing the opening set 1-6. The Spaniard continued his good play, not giving any chance within own serve and making into tiebreak in second set. Fokina was a dominant player there, gaining two minibreaks quickly and moving into 6-1 lead with 5 matchpoints in his hand. Rublev defended first two of it within his serve which started an amazing series of 7 points in a row which denied an upset and kept Rublev alive in this match out of nowhere. Fokina managed to approach another tiebreak in third set despite a huge waste, but came up short there 3-7. Big disappointment for the Spaniard who was clearly a better player up to a point which turned the whole course of events. Botic Van De Zandschulp will be Rublev's rival in quarterfinal.