DUBAI, March 18 — Second seed Andrey Rublev recorded his 15th victory of the season with a 6-3, 6-1 dismissal of American Taylor Fritz in Dubai on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals.

The Russian extended his winning streak at 500-level tournaments to 22 victories in a row.

Only Roger Federer has pulled off a longer stretch of wins at this level, with the Swiss amassing 28 consecutive victories at ATP 500 events between 2014 and 2016.

The 23-year-old Rublev saved all six break points he faced against Fritz and will next play Hungarian Marton Fucsovics for a second time in three weeks, with a last-four place at stake.

“I’m really happy I could win in straight sets, quite confident. I’ve known Taylor since juniors and it’s always tough to play against him because he has a huge serve and he’s playing really fast,” said Rublev, who is through to the last-eight stage for the fourth time in as many events in 2021.

Italian teenager Jannik Sinner overcame 2018 champion Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 to reach his third quarter-final of the season.

Making his tournament debut this week, the 19-year-old Sinner fired 16 aces during the two-hour, 24-minute battle to set up an encounter with recent Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev.

The youngest player in the top 100, Sinner is already a two-time winner on tour, having picked up trophies in Sofia and Melbourne within the last six months.

Sinner squandered a 4-2 lead in the decider and was limited to a 38 percent success rate behind his second serve, but played some clutch tennis in the dying moments of the match to squeeze past the fourth-seeded Bautista Agut with his 48th winner of the contest.

“He’s an incredible player, he’s very, very solid. For me, personally, it has been tough to have the right balance on court, not going for too much and not going too slow. So I think that was the key today,” said the 16th-seeded Sinner.

Explosive Shapovalov

Earlier on centre court, Canadian third seed Denis Shapovalov advanced to the 21st ATP Tour quarter-final of his career with a commanding 6-4, 6-3 victory over Polish world number 35 Hubert Hurkacz.

Contesting the 200th match of his career, the 21-year-old Shapovalov scored his first win in three meetings with Hurkacz to set up a last-eight showdown with in-form French veteran Jeremy Chardy.

Shapovalov brought his explosive brand of tennis from the start, and it earned him an early break in game three. The world number 12 secured the opening set in 43 minutes, dropping just one point on his first serve along the way.

Shapovalov kept up the pressure in the second set and lost a mere four points on serve throughout to advance in dominating fashion.

“For sure, I’m playing some really good tennis,” said Shapovalov.  

“Obviously I’ve struggled against Hubert in the past. He’s such a great player, he’s got great weapons.”

Japan’s Kei Nishikori moved into the first Dubai quarter-final of his career with a hard-fought 6-4, 6-4 win over Slovenian Aljaz Bedene.

“I think all of the second set he was playing much better than me. So it was tough to win but I think the last couple of games I tried to be a little more aggressive and more focused on every point,” said Nishikori. 

The 31-year-old will be seeking a first ATP Tour semi-final appearance in two years when he faces Filip Krajinovic or Lloyd Harris on Thursday. — AFP