There will be no shortage of thrilling matches on Day 2 of the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. We’re predicting eight of the ten matches on Tuesday. Four of those matches are in this article and four are in a separate article.
Who will advance? Here are our thoughts.
ATP Dubai Day 2 Predictions
Marin Cilic vs Benoit Paire
Head-to-head: Cilic 5-1 Paire
Marin Cilic is still trying to rediscover the form that propelled him to a career-high ranking of World No.3 two years ago. But the Croat’s recurring knee injuries have been well documented in the past 12 months, culminating in his big fall from grace in 2019. Cilic has admitted he is happy to have avoided surgery, but one wonders for how long?
He comes to Dubai with a slightly improved ranking of No.36 and with a dominant record against his first round opponent Benoit Paire. The unpredictable Frenchman started his season in superb fashion as he made his ninth tour-level final in Auckland, losing narrowly to fellow countryman Ugo Humbert. But he seems to have lost steam ever since, going down to Cilic in the second round of the Australian Open and then failed to take advantage of a weaker field in Pune as the top seed.
Paire is making his fourth straight appearance in Dubai, but he has won only one match in three previous visits. Expect that dismal record to continue against Cilic who seems to have his number in this match-up.
Prediction: Cilic in 2
Dan Evans vs Fabio Fognini
Head-to-head: First meeting
Dan Evans has done a remarkable job of clawing his way back to the top after being unranked in April 2018 following his return from drugs ban. He is an excellent 8-4 to start the season, making a pair of quarterfinals in Adelaide (pushing eventual champion Rublev to three sets) and Rotterdam.
Fabio Fognini made it to the second week in Melbourne this year, and he has decided to switch things up in February. The Italian has predominantly featured on the South American clay-court swing at this time of year, but he is set to make his debut at the Dubai Championships this week.
Fognini has been nursing ankle and elbow injuries since the Australian Open and he was easily beaten by Karen Khachanov in Rotterdam. He says expectations are nonexistent this week and that doesn’t bode well.
Prediction: Evans in 3
Nikoloz Basilashvili vs Ricardas Berankis
Head-to-head: Basilashvili 0-2 Berankis
Nikoloz Basilashvili has been slow off the blocks this year, winning just two matches. It is still unclear if that is as a result of his elbow surgery which was performed at the end of last season.
The same cannot be said of Ricardas Berankis, who is coming to Dubai in buoyant spirits. The Lithuanian made the semifinals in Pune at the start of February, and rose ten places in the rankings as a result.
Berankis is the man in form and he seems to be on an upward trajectory since the turn of the year.
Prediction: Berankis in 3
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Jan-Lennard Struff
Head-to-head: Bautista Agut 3-0 Struff
Bautista Agut built up some early momentum in January at the ATP Cup, winning all of his six matches to propel Spain to a runner-up finish. Granted he benefited from an accommodating list of opponents, he still went about his business with little complacency. The 31-year-old has traditionally started each year strongly for the last four seasons, winning titles in Auckland (2016 and 2018), Chennai (2017), and Doha last year. He scaled a career-high ranking of World No.9 last November thanks to his brilliant 2019 season which also yielded a maiden semifinal in a Grand Slam at Wimbledon.
Agut is setting sights on a second title in Dubai this week, but he has a seemingly treacherous path to the final. His first test will be against the big-serving German Jan-Lennard Struff – a player he is yet to lose to in three meetings. The Spaniard might have hit a rough patch since Melbourne, there is nothing to suggest Struff is capable of turning the tables in this one.
Prediction: Bautista Agut in 2
Main Photo from Getty.