'Tired' Lucas Pouille relies on home advantage to win his ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships opener
Frenchman concedes having not had a lot of rest after flying in from Marseille where he was beaten in final to Karen Khachanov - his next opponent in emirate
Lucas Pouille banked on home comforts to help him recover from a quick turnaround after reaching the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday.
Pouille, seeded second in Dubai, was competing in the final of the Marseille Open on Sunday and only arrived in Dubai late on Monday night. However, the 24-year-old Frenchman showed few ill-effects from his lack of rest, defeating Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-4.
“I knew it would be tough because I played only 20 minutes before the match,” world No 15 Pouille said. “I arrived yesterday pretty late. I fell asleep around 4 or 5 am, so I’m a bit tired. But I'm happy with what I did tonight.”
Pouille has been one of the busier players on the ATP Tour in recent months. He has already played four tournaments this year, reaching two finals, so there might have been a temptation to give Dubai a miss and take a well-deserved mid-season break.
However, as a resident of the emirate, Pouille was not going to give up the chance to base himself at home for a few days.
“I didn't think about not playing here,” he said. “I live here. I can be at home. We travel a lot every week so I'm happy to come back.”
Pouille will get his chance to avenge his loss in the Marseille final on Wednesday when he takes on the man who beat him to the title. Karen Khachanov, the world No 41 from Russia, won a hard-fought contest 7-6, 7-6 against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin to set up the rematch.
In Tuesday’s first match on Centre Court, Croatia’s Borna Coric defeated a “semi-injured” Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-3 to set up a second round meeting with another Frenchman, Benoit Paire.
“I knew he was semi-injured,” Coric, 21, said. “I didn't know what to expect. I was really just trying to focus on myself. I knew because we were supposed to practice on Friday and he cancelled.
“I was just trying to be aggressive, trying to move him as much as possible. He did come back in the both sets. It was a pretty good effort from him, especially because he was injured. But I managed to stay calm. I didn't panic. It was good.”
Over on Court One, Jan-Lennard Struff completed the fastest match of the tournament so far after the German progressed past Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer in just 56 minutes, winning their first round match 6-2, 6-4.
Struff, the world No 56, will take on Yuichi Sugita in Wednesday’s second round after the No 8 seed from Japan defeated Ilya Ivashka, the 24-year-old from Belarus, 7-5, 6-1.
Serbian seventh seed Filip Krajinovic fought back from a first set whitewash to beat Italian Thomas Fabbiano 0-6, 6-2, 6-2 to set up a second-round clash with 2016 finalist Marcos Baghdatis.
Concluding the action on Court One, Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy beat Blaz Kavcic, the lucky loser from Slovenia, and moved into the second round with a 6-3, 6-4 win.
On Court Three, Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert defeated Portugal’s Joao Sousa 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 to set up a second-round clash with third seed Roberto Bautista Agut.
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Updated: February 27, 2018 09:53 PM