Dubai Duty Free Tennis: Bautista Agut Sets Date with Pouille

Published March 2nd, 2018 - 10:21 GMT
Roberto Bautista Agut
Roberto Bautista Agut

The Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open singles title will be decided between the second and third seeds after Dubai resident Lucas Pouille and Roberto Bautista Agut secured contrasting wins in the two semi-finals, on Friday.

While second seed and hot favourite Pouille weathered off a gutsy challenge from seventh seed Filip Krajinovic of Serbia before winning 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), third seed Bautista Agut halted Tunisian Malek Jaziri’s dream run with a straight-forward 6-3, 6-4 win on a rain-marred day of tennis.

“I’m happy with the way I have played and reached my first final in an ATP-500 event. I think I completed a great match. He had very good support from the crowd and it was a nice feeling on court. I tried to play very aggressive and I think I did it,” Bautista Agut said.

His opponent in Saturday’s final will be Pouille. “He’s been having a good run. He’s having some very good results this last month. He had passed a very tough moment today in the semi-final, and I think he will be a tough opponent tomorrow,” Bautista Agut said.

The first set went as per plan with Bautista Agut securing the lone break early to win 6-3 in 32 minutes. But the 34-year-old Tunisian struck vintage form in the second while breaking the world No.23 in the fourth and go 4-1 up. However, the Spaniard struck back in the seventh and held to draw level 4-4 before a second consecutive break saw Bautista Agut sneak clear 5-4. But, egged on by the crowd Jaziri was a point away from a second break himself when Bautista Agut saved three match points to serve out set and match in a gripping 79 minutes.

Despite the loss Jaziri, who had reached a career best No.47 exactly a year back, will once again break into the top-100 when the ATP Rankings are announced on Monday.

Earlier, Pouille was pushed against the wall before securing his third final of the season with a hard-fought victory against seventh seed Krajinovic. “I think that would have hurt a lot. I was much better in the first and second set at 6-3, 5-3. I think I made a mistake by continuing play when it was raining. After that we couldn’t even move. It was just serve and return. But he deserved to win the second set. He was aggressive. I couldn’t put a first serve in, and then in the third, it was very, very close,” Pouille said.

“Yeah, I’m just very happy that I got through this one,” he sighed.

A third final with just two months gone into the season will see Pouille break into the top-10 for the first time, on Monday. “Well, that’s exciting. Playing to reach the top-10 for the first time is something great,” the 24-year-old Frenchman admitted.

“But obviously if I play like this every week of the year, I mean, if I’m focused like this and I’m mentally as strong as I am now, I’m sure one week or another I will be in the top-10. Tomorrow is not going to be the most important match of my life, but definitely going to be an important match. I’m just very excited, and that’s it. There is no pressure,” Pouille said.


Singles semi-finals

Lucas Pouille bt Filip Krajinovic 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5)

Roberto Bautista Agut bt Malek Jaziri 6-3, 6-4


By Alaric Gomes

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