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ATP Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships Quarterfinal Predictions Including Novak Djokovic vs Jiri Vesely

Novak Djokovic in action at the 2021 Australian Open.

The quarterfinal round of the ATP 500 Dubai Championships is here, with a couple of surprise names. Can Jiri Vesely continue his surprise run and upset the #1 player in the world? We share our thoughts on the four matches.

ATP Dubai Quarterfinal Predictions

Andrey Rublev vs Mackenzie McDonald

Head-to-head: McDonald 1-0 Rublev

McDonald played very well against Aslan Karatsev for a first round upset, then went a step down against Filip Krajinovic, though he still got the win. Rublev presents an entirely different challenge. The Russian is 11-2 on the season and likes the hard court, and is a legitimate threat to win the whole tournament. Rublev will likely hammer McDonald’s second serve (which will put a lot of pressure on his first), and will likely hammer more or less all of McDonald’s strokes, which don’t come with a lot of power. This should be especially problematic from Rublev’s forehand, which creates a lot of pace with good accuracy, and which moves quickly to catch balls skipping off a fast court. McDonald plays decent defense, but I have trouble seeing him keeping up with Rublev’s power and aggression. His win against Rublev came when the Russian was ranked about a hundred points lower.
Prediction: Rublev in 2

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Hubert Hurkacz vs Jannik Sinner

Head-to-head: Hurkacz 1-1 Sinner

This is a matchup of similar players, though with Sinner tending more towards aggression and offense, and Hurkacz staying more patient defensively. But each player creates a frustrating wall on both wings that induces their opponent into errors. Something here has to give, then, and I would expect Sinner to break out of the rallies more to try to end points offensively. He has the ability, although I think he prefers to defend, and this one could come down to whether Sinner is able to hit his spots against the defensively-stout Pole.
Prediction: Hurkacz in 3

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Denis Shapovalov vs Ricardas Berankis

Head-to-head: Shapovalov 2-1 Berankis

In the previous matches between these two, both that were played on hard court went the way of Shapovalov. Berankis is quick, and can probably handle Shapovalov’s power decently, but I don’t see him being able to do enough from his side to overcome Shapovalov’s constant barrage. I would expect the Canadian to get good opportunities when serving out wide from the ad court, whether a sliding second serve or a heavy first serve that should give Berankis’ backhand trouble. We could see some serve and volley from Shapovalov; for a power hitter, he’s not very reticent to come to net. I would need to see something drastic in favor of Berankis to give him the upset over a player ranked 85 places higher, but I don’t see anything. Maybe if it was on grass, where the Lithuanian got his lone win.
Prediction: Shapvalov in 2

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Novak Djokovic vs Jiri Vesely

Head-to-head: Vesely 1-0 Djokovic

What do we make of a player who has provided two huge upsets thus far, but a couple weeks ago was retiring in the third round of a Challenger? And Vesely hasn’t just beaten the #24 and #15 players in the world; he’s done so in straight sets. Djokovic, for his part, needs no introduction, and has taken care of business comfortably on his side of the draw. Can Vesely crank the upset dial to eleven? Strangely enough, he owns the single head-to-head victory. However, while I appreciate the excellence of Vesely’s two wins this week (while not appreciating him ruining my picks…), I’m not ready to take anyone outside the Top 100 over Djokovic.
Prediction: Djokovic in 2

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