After Dubai seeds Shapovalov, Rublev and Sinner win, Thiem crashes out

After Dubai seeds Shapovalov, Rublev and Sinner win, Thiem crashes out

South African qualifier Lloyd Harris secured the biggest win of his career, upsetting world No. 4 Dominic Thiem, 6-3, 6-4, in the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

For the most part, seeded players delivered at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday. But by the end of play, the No. 1 seed was eliminated. Here’s a quick rundown of how the day went down.

Lovely Lloyd

A week after taking down 20th-ranked Stan Wawrinka, South African qualifier Lloyd Harris secured an ever bigger win, upsetting fourth-ranked Dominic Thiem, 6-3, 6-4, in the second round. The Cape Town native compiled a terrific performance, striking 23 winners to just eight unforced errors while winning 97 percent of his first-serve points.

"Obviously I'm super happy with the win. I look up to Domi a lot, so for me it's a special feeling," Harris said in an on-court interview. "The fact I'm playing good tennis match in and match out now has given me a lot of confidence."

Harris broke for 4-3 in the second when correctly challenging a call that overturned the Austrian’s crosscourt backhand winner, and had no problem closing out the contest on his racquet to lock up his first Top 10 win in five attempts.

"I was serving really well. I took control of those games," he continued. "One or two games on his serve, I gave myself a good look. I was pretty calm, just trying to focus on what I needed to do."

Thiem’s trip to the Middle East will be one to quickly forget, as he finished 1-2 following last week’s quarterfinal exit in Doha to Roberto Bautista Agut.

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Sharp Shapo

Ahead of his opener, Denis Shapovalov had lost his last four matches to Jan-Lennard Struff. In the German’s last three wins, close first sets went his way. This time around, the third-seeded Shapovalov came out blazing in his Dubai debut and applied plenty of pressure on his opponent’s second serve, winning 12 of 16 points. It resulted in four breaks and resounding 6-1, 6-3 victory after just 61 minutes.

"I've had difficulties with him in the past, so I knew for sure it was going to be a tough match for me," Shapovalov told press afterwards. "But I feel like any match is a new match. It's always starting from 0-0. The past really doesn't mean much."

The 21-year-old will look to reach the quarterfinals when he faces No. 13 seed Hubert Hurkacz, a 6-3, 6-4 winner over Richard Gasquet.

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Russians Roll On

Meanwhile, Andrey Rublev posted his 21st consecutive win at the 500 level after defeating Emil Ruusuvuori, 6-4, 6-4. Rublev hit six aces to zero double faults and did not face a break point in beginning his bid.

Two weeks ago, the Russian triumphed in Rotterdam to win his fourth ATP 500 title since last September.

Rublev’s countrymen Karen Khachanov and Aslan Karasatsev were also victorious following three-set wins. Khachanov fended off Alexei Popyrin, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (4), to set up a clash with Jeremy Chardy.

As for wild card Karatsev, the Australian Open semifinalist sent No. 12 seed Dan Evans packing, overcoming February’s Murray River Open champion, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Karatsev, who edged Evans 89 to 88 in total points won, gets 17th seed Lorenzo Sonego next. The Italian dismissed Bernabe Zapata Miralles, 6-2, 6-2.

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Nishikori befuddles Goffin again

The two hadn't squared off since 2015, a season where Kei Nishikori got the best of David Goffin three times. But the long hiatus in their head-to-head series didn't hinder the former US Open finalist from picking up where he left off.

While there were definite signs of nerves from Nishikori, who twice failed to serve out the match at 5-4 and 6-5 in the second set, he recovered from squandering two match points to avoid a potential collapse in taking down the No. 5 seed, 6-3, 7-6(3). Goffin is now 2-3 since lifting the Montpellier crown in February.

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Fourth seed Baustista Agut and No. 16 seed Jannik Sinner will square off in the third round after experiencing completely different days at the office. Bautista Agut, coming off a runner-up effort in Doha, led Matthew Ebden 4-1 when the Australian retired. Sinner was forced to play from behind but managed to scrap past Alexander Bublik, 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4, in the pair’s first encounter.   

Taylor Fritz, the No. 15 seed, reversed last week’s outcome by exacting revenge against Doha champion Nikoloz Basilashvili. Down 2-3, 0-40 in their decider, Fritz won his next 16 points on serve ahead of the decisive tie-break. He opened a 6-1 lead before closing out the win, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), finishing with 26 aces.