ATP Dubai Day 3 Predictions Including Novak Djokovic vs Karen Khachanov

Novak Djokovic in action at the 2021 Australian Open.
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Day 2 of the ATP 500 Dubai Championships featured an equal share of upsets and expected outcomes. What will Day 3 bring? Last year’s champion has already bowed out; could the world #1 be upset as well? We share our thoughts on all the day’s matches, split between this and a separate article.

ATP Dubai Day 3 Predictions

Andrey Rublev vs Soonwoo Kwon

Head-to-head: Rublev 1-0 Kwon

Kwon has been playing his best tennis the last six months, and has started the year well, including a quick win over Ilya Ivashka in Round 1. If anything bodes well for his chances against the world #7 it’s that, but their last meeting (recently in Rotterdam) bodes less well. Rublev won 6-3 6-3 and has been on a tear this year, going 10-2 with a title, and finishing Dan Evans in straight sets to start the tournament. I like Rublev on the fast courts, with his quick forehand and fast reflexes.
Prediction: Rublev in 2

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Alexei Popyrin vs Ricardas Berankis

Head-to-head: first meeting

Both Popyrin and Berankis provided upsets in Round 1, strangely enough against opponents similar to each other. Popyrin is like a lankier version of Jan-Lennard Struff, and Berankis is like a smaller version of Nikoloz Basilashvili. This should be the speedier, less powerful version of those two matches combined. Popryin’s win is the more impressive, but Berankis has played a little better this season. Berankis has a higher win percentage on hard courts, and has fared a little better at this tournament, in addition to having more experience in general; but Popyrin is younger and fresher, with his opponent coming off a three-set match to his two-setter. This may end up being a more interesting match than its ranking would seem to warrant, with a lot of back-and-forth. And with little to distinguish them, we’ll just go with the ranking here.
Prediction: Popyrin in 3

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Mackenzie McDonald vs Filip Krajinovic

Head-to-head: first meeting

McDonald was impressive in his first round upset of Aslan Karatsev, serving fifteen aces and winning a whopping 11 of 13 break points en route to a straight-sets victory. Meanwhile, Krajinovic survived a three-set scare against a 38-year old player who sits outside the top 300. Krajinovic is usually the better player by a little margin, and has played decently in Dubai in the past, but neither player has shown anything impressive this year until McDonald’s Round 1 triumph. The match should feature long rallies, as both players like to sit on the ball and induce errors, which may favor the younger and fresher American. I like his hot hand at the moment, as well, and the fact that Krajinovic plays a lot like a less-powerful Karatsev.
Prediction: McDonald in 3

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Novak Djokovic vs Karen Khachanov

Head-to-head: Djokovic 4-1 Khachanov

People are saying that Djokovic has gotten a difficult draw, but that feels more appropriate to say for Khachanov here. A quick, straight-sets victory over a talented young Lorenzo Musetti has the world #1 looking a lot like the world #1, though it’s fair to mention that Musetti prefers clay. Khachanov eked out a victory over Alex de Minaur in Round 1, and has had a decent start to the season, though without any top 20 victories. The two met here in 2020, with Djokovic taking an easy match 6-2 6-2, and it would not be a surprise to see the hungry Serb continue his dominance.
Prediction: Djokovic in 2

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