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Nishikori vs Hurkacz tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Nishikori heads for Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships quarterfinals

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 26 Feb 2019
  • Kei Nishikori faces Hubert Hurkacz in the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
  • Nishikori vs Hurkacz is live from Dubai on Wednesday at 2pm local/10am GMT
Kei Nishikori (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Kei Nishikori targets a place in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships as he takes on Hubert Hurkacz on Wednesday.

Will Kei Nishikori’s victorious debut at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships continue? He faces Hubert Hurkacz for a place in the quarterfinals of the 500-level event.

This is Nishikori’s first time playing the ATP Tour 500 event that is the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and the Japanese player headlines the draw, relegating seven-time champion Roger Federer to the status of second seed – plenty of pressure even for an experienced competitor like Nishikori.

12 months ago a frustrated Nishikori lost to Denis Shapovalov in Acapulco  (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
But unlike this time last year, when Nishikori was losing in the first round of Acapulco to Denis Shapovalov, he is not searching for form in the wake of a wrist injury and long absence from competition. In fact, there has been little wrong with Nishikori’s season so far, which has seen him compile a 12-2 win-loss record: He ended a long ATP Tour title drought when he won the Brisbane International in January, beating Daniil Medvedev and Grigor Dimitrov on the way, and battled through a tough draw to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, even if his fourth appearance in the last eight in Melbourne ended disappointingly with a retirement against Novak Djokovic.

Nishikori brought his strong form into February when he made the semifinals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, edged out by Stan Wawrinka in a thrilling, high-quality match which left him with little to regret. And his first ever match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships was a solid 6-4, 6-3 victory over the mercurial Benoit Paire.

Nishikori called for some tape before the match even started and had to save a break point in his opening service game, but promptly broke Paire to lead 2-1 when the French player double-faulted. He had to save seven further break points in a marathon game to hold for 3-1, but once that hold was in the book, the rest was one-way traffic. Nishikori had to come back from 0-30 down when serving for the set but with Paire struggling with knee pain, Nishikori was able to break in the fifth game of the second when the French player once more double faulted and rode that advantage to victory.

‘Never easy playing Benoit, of course. Great serve, great backhand. Tricky player. Good dropshot, good touch,’ Nishikori said. 

‘First set I think the key was the longest game, I think 2-1. Able to get the game. I was more confident. If he broke back, anything can happen. It was good match. Never easy with this wind. First time playing this tournament. But, yeah, think played good enough tennis today.’

Winning one’s opening match in Dubai has been no easy task for the top eight seeds so far, with Daniil Medvedev, Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic and Karen Khachanov all ousted in the first round; indeed it is only Nishikori and Roger Federer, of the top eight seeds, who have made it through to the second round at the time of asking.

Nishikori can feel reasonably satisfied with himself therefore as he moves on to face Hubert Hurkacz in the second round.

Hubert Hurkacz (GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
World no. 77 Hurkacz booked his own place in the second round by defeating qualifier Corentin Moutet 6-3, 7-5 on Tuesday. The 22-year-old from Wroclaw is trying to get his first win over a top-10 opponent after being defeated on two previous attempts, which both came against Marin Cilic.

The 22-year-old from Wroclaw first broke into the top 100 last year after a season spent mainly on the Challenger Tour, which saw him win titles in Poznan and Brest, finish runner-up in Zhuhai and make the semifinals of Shenzhen. Hurkacz also successfully qualified for ATP Tour events in Budapest and Washington and played in the main draw of the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, making the second rounds of the French and US Opens.

Hurkacz started 2019 at world no. 86 and has already lifted his ranking to a career high world no. 77 after winning the Canberra Challenger, defeating Ilya Ivashka in the final. The Pole also pushed Ivo Karlovic to four tie-break sets in the first round of the Australian Open, but he lost in the second round of the Quimper Challenger and the first round of the ATP 250 Montpellier event to Ernests Gulbis. In Marseille last week, he beat Filip Krajinovic, but lost to eventual champion Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Hurkacz is hoping to make his first ATP Tour quarterfinal in Dubai on Wednesday, but it’s a huge ask for the Pole despite a solid win over Moutet. Nishikori wasn’t brilliant against Paire, but he did more than enough to get the win with energy to spare; he should be far too solid and mobile for Hurkacz in what will be their first meeting. 

Nishikori vs Hurkacz Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships tennis is live from Dubai from 2pm local/10am GMT

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Nishikori vs Hurkacz tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Nishikori heads for Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships quarterfinals

Kei Nishikori vs Hubert Hurkacz live streaming, preview and predictions for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships second-round match on Tuesday 26 February: Hurkacz has never beaten a top-10 opponent or reached an ATP Tour quarterfinal

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