ATP Dubai Tennis Championships Day Three Predictions Including Denis Shapovalov vs Jan-Lennard Struff

Denis Shapovalov ATP Cup
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With 15 matches on the slate on a packed day three at the ATP Dubai Tennis Championships, there should be plenty of entertaining tennis in the UAE. As always, we here at LWOT will be offering our predictions for every match on the slate, including a host of young standouts with Denis Shapovalov taking on veteran Jan-Lennard Struff, new champion Alexi Popyrin against the young Russian Karen Khachanov, and the exciting Italian Jannik Sinners against Alexander Bublik. The Dubai draw is stacked and these interesting matches will begin to shape up the later part of the draw. We also have predictions for the rest of the day’s matches, in three other sets. One features Pablo Carreno Busta vs Marton Fucsovics, another headlines Roberto Bautista Agut vs Matthew Ebden, and the last features Kei Nishikori vs David Goffin.

ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Day Three Predictions

Alexei Popyrin vs Karen Khachanov

Head-to-head: first meeting

Popyrin surprised the tennis world a couple of weeks ago with his title at the Singapore Open. The young Australian captured his first ATP title and rose to a career-high rank of #82. Khachanov broke into the Top 20 at the end of 2018 and spent some time in the Top 10, but has had trouble getting to the next level. This season has been a continuation of the last couple where he has won a couple matches at most events but has yet to make a deep run. The big-serving Russian has experience at the top level and knows how to win, but has not won a title since 2018.

Popyrin took a couple weeks off after his title, avoiding the hangover that normally follows players a week after a title with an early loss. He will be looking to prove he earned his title and belongs at this level and has a tough matchup though he has a chance to win. Popyrin did have a fairly easy draw to his title, with his biggest win over Marin Cilic who has been inconsistent recently. Popyrin is a talented young player, but he has yet to show his prowess against elite players and Khachanov’s experience will win out.
Prediction: Khachanov in 3

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Jannik Sinner vs Alexander Bublik

Head-to-head: first meeting

Sinner is one of the most exciting young talents on the ATP Tour, and proved he is already a threat by winning his second career title in Adelaide this year. He had a breakthrough 2020 where he was the youngest quarterfinalist at the French Open since 2006 which he followed up with his first ATP title in Sofia. Bublik has made more news for his underarm serve than for his tennis, but his tennis has been excellent leading to him currently sitting at a career-high ranking of #43. Bublik is a shotmaker who can frustrate his opponents by wearing them down, especially a younger player like Sinner.

One of Sinner’s biggest advantage will be rest. He has played just two tournaments since the Australian Open and had two weeks off before Dubai. This will be the fourth straight tournament for Bublik which is a challenge for any player not just with match fatigue but with the weekly travel. Sinner will be fresh  and looking to add to his growing resume with a decent draw to make a run. Sinner is immensely talented and will outhit Bublik to take the match.
Prediction: Sinner in 2

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Alejandro Davidovich Fokina vs Filip Krajinovic

Head-to-head: 1-0 Krajinovic

Fans looking at this matchup should not be fooled based on the home countries of each player. Davidovich Fokina though a Spaniard is a good hard-court player and his game adapts to all surfaces, while Krajinovic plays best on clay though he is far from a specialist with a game that still adapts well to hard courts. The Serbian played well at the Australian Open with a third round appearance where he took the eventually finalist Daniil Medvedev to five sets. Davidovich Fokina has split time between the challenger and main tour, and has played a lot of tennis recently, Dubai being his fifth straight week.

This will be one of the day’s closest matches with both players able to grind out long points. Davidovich Fokina has shown the ability to beat talented players this year with wins over Roberto Bautista Agut and Hubert Hurkacz this year, while losing to players much lower ranked than him as well. Krajinovic lost his final five matches in 2020 but his performance in Melbourne showed that he has shaken the rust off and is back to the player he was before the pandemic halted tennis. Krajinovic is the most consistent player, and the miles on Davidovich Fokina will be catching up to him and Krajinovic will win the big points and take the match.
Prediction: Krajinovic in 3

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Denis Shapovalov vs Jan-Lennard Struff

Head-to-head: 4-1 Struff

Denis Shapovalov is one of the more talented players on tour, the young Canadian recently made his breakthrough into the Top 10. Struff is a journeyman who is one of the many recent players who has peaked in his late 20s and is playing some of the best tennis of his career right now at age 30. After a strong start to 2021, Struff came into Dubai on a four match losing streak, two of those losses against players he should have easily beaten. Shapovalov has had a decent start to the year, but has yet to have a deep run in a tournament. He has been stuck with difficult draws and has dealt with the difficulties of beating top players while being able to put away most matches he should win.

Shapovalov will come in as the favorite, but this match could go either way. Shapovalov has a big baseline game which makes him dangerous but also error-prone when he is off his game. Struff could take advantage of it with his big serve allowing him to be competitive in most matches, and the clash of big hitters could come down to who can limit errors. Struff has an impressive edge in the matchup partly for this reason, but they are 1-1 on hard courts which is Shapovalov’s best surface. Shapovalov is in better form and plays by far his best tennis on hard courts, so he will need to be sharp but will be able to get by Struff.
Prediction: Shapovalov in 3

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