Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Bublik meet for the second straight week as they battle for a quarter final spot in Dubai on Wednesday.
Tsitsipas vs Bublik is live from Dubai on Wednesday, 26 February from 4:00pm local time/ 12:00pm GMT
Tsitsipas scored a 7-5 6-3 victory over Bublik in Marseille last week- can the Greek do an encore or will Bublik avenge that loss in Dubai?
Tsitsipas goes into Wednesday’s contest on a five-match winning streak, having registered four victories in his successful title defence in Marseille, and opened his Dubai account with a 7-6 6-1 victory over Pablo Carreno Busta in his Dubai opener on Tuesday.
Two days after capturing back-to-back Marseille titles, the Greek was back on court in another continent, but he showed no signs of fatigue and he hit the ground running against Carreno Busta. Tsitsipas held four break points for a 4-0 start, but he couldn’t convert, and Carreno Busta made the most of that let off in the next game, breaking back to get the set back on serve. The Spaniard saved a set point while serving to stay in the set at 5-6, but he was no match for Tsitsipas in the tie break as the second seed cruised through for the loss of just one point. Tsitsipas pulled away in the second set as Carreno Busta fell away, winning 7-5 6-1 in just over an hour and a half.
“I’m happy that I got two-set victories for a very long time,” said Tsitsipas, a finalist in Dubai last year. “I’m not spending extra hours out on the court, which for sure is going to help me.”
Following a spectacular 2019, during which he jumped from 91st to 6th and claimed titles in Marseille, Estoril and the Nitto ATP Finals, Tsitsipas was slow out of the gates in 2020, going 1-3 in singles matches at the ATP Cup, crashing to Milos Raonic in the third round of the Australian Open, and falling to Aljaz Bedene in the second round in Rotterdam, Tsitsipas is just starting to motor this season. His Marseille title was achieved without dropping a set, and he’s stretched his streak to 10 consecutive sets with Tuesday’s Dubai win over Carreno Busta.
Can he keep it going when he faces Bublik on Wednesday?
Bublik got his campaign underway with a very impressive 6-2 7-5 victory over Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, as he kept up the good form he showed in Marseille last week.
Before Marseille, the Kazakh had not won back-to-back matches in any of his first five tournaments in 2020, but he put a run together in the French city, beating Marton Fucsovics, Benoit Paire and Denis Shapovalov before falling to Tsitsipas in the last four. He is now up to a career-high 47th in the world following that Marseille run.
The 22-year-old has backed up that result with an opening round victory over Hurkacz in Dubai.
The enigmatic Kazakh survived seven double faults, one of them on match point after attempting an underarm first serve, but he won 82% of points on his first serve, and saved three of the four break points he faced. Bublik got broken as he served for the match at 5-4, failing to take a match point, but he regained his break in the next game, and closed it out at the second time of asking.
A finalist in Newport and Chengdu in 2019, Bublik first broke into the top 50 last year, peaking at No. 48, but he slipped out towards the end of the year, finishing at No. 56. Now that he’s back in the top-50, can he have an extended stay in that group and rise even higher?
Victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Dubai will certainly not hurt that cause!
“[Bublik] is a tricky player. He does unexpected things on the court,” Tsitsipas said of his next opponent. “I just need to be there, do my job the way I’m doing it so far. I’m doing great. I should continue doing the same, handle things the same way, be cautious and know when I have to put in the extra effort.”
Indeed, Bublik will try all sorts of things to keep Tsitsipas off balance, he can also get erratic at times. Tsitsipas is on a roll at the moment, and should be too consistent for his Kazakh opponent.