A second round encounter has been set between defending champion Novak Djokovic and Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. The two competitors met last year at this event, where Djokovic was successful in straight sets. The Serb leads the head-to-head series 1-0 heading into their second round meeting.
The World No. 2 started the match in full control, as he raced to a 3-1 lead in the opening frames against Istomin. The Serb was in strong form, having not taken part in a professional match since his semi-final exit at the Australian Open, as he quickly able to find the range on his ground strokes, which bothered Istomin consistently. Less than 25 minutes later, Djokovic had secured the opening set 6-3, hitting 2 aces and 10 winners in the process.
Djokovic furthered his lead on Istomin in the second set, as he jumped to a 3-0 lead. He would then follow up with a second break and it would ultimately be enough to secure the 6-3, 6-3 victory in an hour and 20 minutes. The top seed struck a total of 26 winners, with 6 of them being aces, and managed 76% of his points on first serve.
“It wasn’t as easy as the scoreline indicates,” said Djokovic. “I needed to work for my games. My serve worked really well in the second set, and that helped me to get some free points. But having not played for more than four, five weeks, an official match, obviously it takes its toll on the court. I practised a lot. I put in a lot of hours on the court, trying to develop my game, trying to get myself in the right shape, and it’s going to click sooner or later.”
Roberto Bautista Agut defeated qualifier Adrian Ungur 6-1, 6-3 in 66 minutes to set up a second-round encounter with top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard hit 3 aces, saved 5/6 break points against him and managed five of his own to win the match in straight sets. Agut was fairly consistent throughout the contest, as he served at 66%, winning 76% of his points on his first serve, yet Ungur was barely able to manage 50%, which set up the 12 break point opportunities against him.
This marks just the second time that these two competitors meet on the professional tour, with their last encounter taking place at this very event in Dubai. Djokovic won that encounter 6-1 7-6(4) to advance to the quarter-final stage. This will likely be a similar affair, with the Spaniard putting up a strong fight late in the match, yet being ultimately unable to withstand Djokovic’s perseverance. As the defending champion in Dubai, Djokovic is comfortable on this particular surface, as he is adjusted to the slightly quicker hard courts and favours their conditions. This will likely be another straight sets victory for the world No. 2, as he continues his campaign to defend his title.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Straight Sets