Gael Monfils targets his 11th win on the bounce when he takes on qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama for a place in the Dubai quarter-finals on Wednesday night.
?? Gael Monfils vs ?? Yasutaka Uchiyama Match Info
Date: Wednesday February 26
Tournament: ATP Dubai R2
Court: Centre Court
Time: 8.30pm local time (4.30pm GMT)
Gael Monfils vs Yasutaka Uchiyama Head-to-Head
Gael Monfils vs Yasutaka Uchiyama Match Preview
It’s been a fantastic start to the season for Monfils – can he keep his winning momentum going when he meets Japanese qualifier Uchiyama for a spot in the last eight in Dubai?
Monfils has won 14 of his 16 matches so far in 2020, with his only defeats coming against Australian Open finalists Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem. The Frenchman is currently riding a 10-match winning streak this month, winning the Montpellier title before successfully defending his Rotterdam crown the following week, conquering rising star Felix Auger-Aliassime in the final.
After enjoying a much-deserved week off, Monfils is back in action in Dubai and picked up from where he left off, taking out the in-form Marton Fucsovics by a 6-4 7-5 scoreline in his opening round. The World No. 9 and third seed hasn’t always played his best tennis over the last few weeks, but he says his fighting mindset propelled him to victory.
“I think [the reason for my winning streak is] fighting. I fought hard,” said Monfils. “I still believed, even though I played very bad.”
The 33-year-old has quietly made his way back into the top 10 after an underrated last 12 months, which included winning one of the biggest titles of his career here in Rotterdam, while he also reached semi-finals at the Montreal Masters, Sofia, Dubai and Vienna, along with making the fourth round at Roland Garros and the U.S. Open. Monfils was one win away from qualifying for the ATP Finals at the end of 2019, but he failed to beat Denis Shapovalov at the Paris Masters.
Targeting a breakthrough into the top five this season, Monfils goes in search of his 11th straight victory on Wednesday night.
Uchiyama has already won three matches in Dubai after coming through qualifying, beating Zhizhen Zhang and Yuichi Sugita before coming back from a set down to defeat Yen-Hsun Lu 3-6 6-1 6-2 in the opening round of the main draw.
The 27-year-old from Japan has made steady progress in his career over the last decade, improving his year-end ranking in nine of the last 10 seasons, but 2019 was by far his best. Uchiyama started last year by earning the biggest win of his career over then No. 14 Kyle Edmund as he made the Brisbane quarter-finals from qualifying, while after making his Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon, he broke into the top 100 for the first time in October and hit his career-high ranking of No. 78 following a run to the Playford Challenger final.
Overall, Uchiyama went 31-14 on the Challenger circuit last year, winning two titles in Shanghai and Ningbo, but he’s dropped to No. 99 in the world after injury disrupted his start to 2020, causing him to withdraw from the ATP Cup, while he also lost in the first round of the Australian Open, New York and Delray Beach without winning a set.
Gael Monfils vs Yasutaka Uchiyama Prediction
Uchiyama has scored his first three wins of the season in Dubai, but they haven’t come against the strongest of opponents, it must be said. Monfils is a huge step up in class and is currently riding a wave of confidence from his 10-match winning streak. The Frenchman might not be playing his best, but he’s fighting hard and should come out on top comfortably in this match-up.