Day 3 at the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships will see World No.1 Novak Djokovic attempt to extend his unbeaten start to the season when he faces Philipp Kohlschreiber.
We predict all eight matches, with four of those in this article and the other four matches in a second article.
Who will reach the quarterfinals?
ATP Dubai Day 3 Predictions
Dan Evans vs Pierre-Hugues Herbert
Head-to-head: Evans 1-0 Herbert
Dan Evans secured a fine win against No.4 seed Fabio Fognini on Tuesday evening. The British No.1 leveled the match at 1-set all, but faced two break point chances at 4-4, 15-40 in the decider. He came through that game decisively, slamming down two monstrous serves to dig him out of a hole. Evans would break the Italian in the 12th game in the final set to claim his fourth top-20 scalp of the season.
Herbert took full advantage of a fatigued Yoshihito Nishioka to progress, but he won’t cherish a second round meeting against the in-form Briton. In a contest where rallies will be at a premium, the man from West Midlands should be a match for the Frenchman’s serve-and-volley game. It may have taken Evans a long time to fully comprehend just how far his talented hands could take him, but he seems destined for a big year in 2020.
Prediction: Evans in 3
Karen Khachanov vs Dennis Novak
Head-to-head: Khachanov 1-0 Novak
Karen Khachanov is still not firing on all cylinders just yet. In fact, the Russian hasn’t quite hit his stride ever since he won the Paris Masters at the end of 2018. He suffered from a severe bout of illness at the start of 2019, but bounced back with a quarterfinal showing in Indian Wells. Although the 23-year-old made a handful of semifinal and quarterfinal appearances in some of the biggest events last year, he never won any titles nor did he reach a final.
Meanwhile, Dennis Novak, who is ranked at No.96 in the world (three spots short of his career-high ranking), might look at this second round match as an opportune time to garner his career-best win. The Austrian won two Challenger titles in 2019, but he won only two matches at tour-level all year.
I think the Russian is marginally the better player on current form, thus denying us what would have been the most treasured tennis scoreboard between Novak and Djokovic in the last eight.
Prediction: Khachanov in 2
Gael Monfils vs Yasutaka Uchiyama
Head-to-head: First meeting
It is not just Novak Djokovic who is winning matches for fun, but France’s Gael Monfils is in also in rich vein of form as he chases an unprecedented third successive title in February. After losing in the fourth-round of the Australian Open, the 33-year-old embarked on a nine-match winning streak that saw him capture back-to-back titles in Montpellier and Rotterdam, the latter without dropping a set.
Monfils extended that winning sequence to 10 matches after winning his first round in Dubai. He should overwhelm the Japanese qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama with his supreme athleticism to reach the quarters.
Prediction: Monfils in 2
Novak Djokovic vs Philipp Kohlschreiber
Head-to-head: Djokovic 11-2 Kohlschreiber
Novak Djokovic played in his first match since capturing a record-extending 8th Australian Open on Monday evening, dismissing Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri 6-1 6-2 in an assured display, landing 21 winners and not facing a single break point.
However, the World No.1 will be wary of his next test which comes in the shape of Philipp Kohlschreiber, the German veteran who surprised him in their last meeting on a hard court. Kohlschreiber beat Djokovic for just the second time in 13 matches in Indian Wells last year, but it is worth pointing out that the North American hard-court swing was the Serbian’s least productive part of his otherwise brilliant 2019 season.
Djokovic is 14-0 for the season, and don’t expect Kohlschreiber to be the one out of 15.
Prediction: Djokovic in 2
Main Photo from Getty.