A great day of play awaits on Day 3 of the ATP 500 tournament in Dubai. Can Andy Murray swing the next upset and break through his second-round wall? We share our thoughts on all the day’s matches, split between this and a separate article.
ATP Dubai Day 3 Predictions
Denis Shapovalov vs Taro Daniel
Head-to-head: Shapovalov 1-0 Daniel
Shapovalov leads in every category when considering this pick. He ranks a hundred places higher, has had a better start to the season, has a better history at Dubai and a higher win percentage on hard court, and won the last meeting between these two. Daniel has won some victories over marquee names this year in Murray and Goffin, but Murray has been on-off and Goffin has struggled severely for almost a year. Shapovalov should win comfortably.
Prediction: Shapovalov in 2
Hubert Hurkacz vs Alex Molcan
Head-to-head: first meeting
Molcan continued his slow and steady rise with a victory over a struggling Lloyd Harris, while Hurkacz scored his best win since early this season by dismantling Alexander Bublik (though Bublik gifted him eight double faults). Molcan’s quick and aggressive style may be prone to errors against Hurkacz’s slow and steady counterpunching, and I see Hurkacz leading across the board in this matchup. I don’t love the Poles season so far, and he can be a streaky player (compare his incredible run in Miami last year to several losses to very low-ranked players afterwards), but I haven’t seen enough from Molcan to warrant a pick against the world #11.
Prediction: Hurkacz in 2
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Jiri Vesely
Head-to-head: Bautista Agut 4-0 Vesely
Bautista Agut has had a fantastic start to his season, while Vesely played well above his level in dispatching world #24 Marin Cilic in Round 1. If Vesely pulls this out, it would likely be the upset of the tournament; but like all such upsets, I don’t see it happening. Bautista Agut has been one of the most solid players of the last 5-10 years, and is playing with a lot of confidence right now, and has found the finish line once here in Dubai in the past. I would expect a lot of mistakes off the forehand of the Czech as he tries to manage the Spaniards strong defense, and could see this one ending quickly.
Prediction: Bautista Agut in 2
Andy Murray vs Jannik Sinner
Head-to-head: Murray 1-0 Sinner
Murray took his lone meeting with Sinner in straight sets, a huge upset in Stockholm just a few months ago. Nothing much has changed, in that Sinner has played well all along, and Murray has had flashes of his old self with an inability to make long runs in tournaments.
Murray is 8-5 to start the year, and Sinner 8-1, and I trust Sinner’s record more in that Murray has made a habit of following up Round 1 with a loss, whereas Sinner has lost this year only to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open quarterfinals. Both looked uncomfortable in their first round matches here in Dubai, which each went to three sets, but I see Sinner’s prolonged excellence this last year as more meaningful than Murray’s one head-to-head. But this should be an intelligent match with a lot of long rallies and a lot of Murray shouting at himself over the errors Sinner will force him into.
Prediction: Sinner in 3
Main Photo from Getty.