Roberto Bautista Agut returned to winning ways at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday, ending a three-match tour-level losing streak with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Florian Mayer.
"I felt great on the court," Bautista Agut said. "He was mixing up all his game, and he was playing very aggressively on the return. We made a lot of good returns, both of us.... I think I did a great job."
The Spaniard, who had failed to record a win since lifting his seventh ATP World Tour title at the ASB Classic last month (d. Del Potro), struggled to hold serve throughout the 76-minute encounter, losing serve three times. However, the World No. 23 broke Mayer on five occasions to reach the second round in Dubai for the sixth consecutive year. The 29-year-old will next face Joao Sousa (2-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head) or Pierre-Hugues Herbert (2-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head).
"Here the ball flies after a deep return. [It] wasn't easy to keep [holding] serve," the Spaniard admitted. "Then I tried to play more aggressively on my second serve, tried to start the game with my serve a bit faster.
I think I did well."
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Sixth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber beat French qualifier Gleb Sakharov 6-4, 6-2 in 73 minutes, earning his 11th victory in Dubai (11-8). The 34-year-old, who has lost to the eventual champion in the past two editions of the tournament, won an impressive 82 per cent of points behind his second serve and broke the Frenchman on four occasions to notch his second tour-level win of the year.
The 2014 semi-finalist will meet wildcard Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the quarter-finals. The #NextGenATP Greek snapped a five-match tour-level losing streak to beat Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3.
Robin Haase survived a tough first-round test to beat Quentin Halys 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. The Dutchman was put under constant pressure on serve, with Halys creating 17 break-point opportunities, but Haase saved 13 of them to reach the second round after two hours and 15 minutes. He will play top-seeded Grigor Dimitrov or wild card Malek Jaziri.
Did You Know?
Philipp Kohlschreiber has lost to the eventual champion in the quarter-finals of the past two editions of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. The German lost in straight sets to Stan Wawrinka in 2016 and failed to convert seven match points against Andy Murray last year.