Dubai: top seed Nishikori stunned by qualifier

Published by Reuters

Kei Nishikori departs the court in Dubai after his shock second-round loss to world No.77 Hubert Hurkacz (Getty Images)
No.1 seed Kei Nishikori goes down to Polish qualifier Hubert Hurkacz while Roger Federer scrapes through to the quarterfinals with a three-set win over Fernando Verdasco.

Polish qualifier Hubert Hurkacz upset top seed Kei Nishikori 7-5 5-7 6-2 for his first win over a top 10 player, a victory sending him through to the quarterfinals of the ATP Dubai Tennis Championships.

Hurkacz converted six out of seven break points to beat Japan’s Nishikori, ranked sixth, in a little over two hours.

“Kei is an unbelievable player. I had to serve good. That gave me opportunities to attack after the serve and also win a couple of easy points,” world No.77 Hurkacz said.

“Against such a great player, it’s important to have some free points. I was also returning quite well. The match was a little up and down. But I’m happy with the win today.”

Hurkacz’s win over Nishikori sets up a meeting with Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas after the Australian Open semifinalist swatted aside Egor Gerasimov 6-3 6-1 to advance.

Roger Federer was made to work hard by Fernando Verdasco before beating the Spanish veteran 6-3 3-6 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals.

Federer, who is looking to claim his 100th ATP title, was dragged to three sets for the second time in as many rounds but came through in the decider for his 50th victory in Dubai.

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“Even though I wasn’t playing my best, I still felt like it was going to fall my way when it really mattered,” said Federer, who could become the second man in the Open Era to win 100 titles after Jimmy Connors (109).

“I think that confidence is important. I’m happy I had it today… I played good at the end. I had the serve when I needed it, had some good shots… that was nice to win it that way.”

In the first round, Federer was extended to three sets by German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber.

He will take on Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics – a straight-sets winner over Jan Lennard Struff – for a place in the semifinals.

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