ROBERTO BAUTISTA AGUT BEATS LUCAS POUILLE TO WIN DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
(March 3, 2018) Roberto Bautista Agut defeated second seeded Lucas Pouille 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday to win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. He is the fourth Spaniard to win the tournament after Alex Corretja, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Rafael Nadal.
The number three seed was rarely threatened in the one hour 21 minute tournament finale, earning his first break of serve to lead 3-1 when his opponent double-faulted on Bautista Agut’s fourth break point. Pouille held a break point in the next game but Bautista Agut held off the challenge and went on to hold two break points to lead 5-1. Although Pouille fought off that threat he was unable to save the set.
Pouille became a little more aggressive in the second set, breaking Bautista Agut to lead 3-1, but he was unable to hold onto his lead as Bautista Agut immediately broke back and went on to win the final three games for the loss of just four points.
“Well, it’s very special, no? I was following a 500 event during all my career. Of course is my best win,” said Bautista Agut. “I played very good, very aggressive. I didn’t give him all the court, all the control of the game. I played very good tennis tonight. I think was tough to get the break (against me) in the second, but I was mentally strong. I could come back playing very good tennis. That was the key. When he has advantage, he plays more relaxed, he goes more for the shots. I tried to make the score closer during all the match. That was better for me.”
Pouille could be forgiven if he felt weary after reaching three finals in a month, winning in Montpellier and then last week finishing as runner-up in Marseille, but he gave full credit to his opponent.
“I think he played some great tennis tonight. Even if I think I had some opportunities, especially in the second set where I got the break, 3-1 up, I couldn’t conserve it,” said Pouille, who with a victory would have entered the top 10 for the first time. “I think it was tough match. I was not serving well at all. That was not good because, you know, few easy points with my serve would have been good with my energy. I think that didn’t help me. But, yeah, I think he was very solid, played some great tennis when he had to. I know I tried. I tried very hard until the end. He was, yeah, just better than me today. Now I need some rest.”
With the victory, Roberto Bautista Agut captures his eighth ATP World Tour title and his first 500-leveltournament. He becomes the first player outside the Top 10 in the ATP Rankings to triumph in Dubai since Fabrice Santoro in 2002.
In the doubles final, defending champions and number two seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau defeated the unseeded pair of Jamie Cerretani and two-time former champion Leander Paes 6-2, 7-6 (2). Rojer and Tecau are the first team to retain the ATP doubles title in the tournament’s 26 year history. Paes won the title in 1998 and 2003 and also finished as runner-up in 2004 and 2010, and was seeking his second title in two outings with Cerretani after they won an ATP Challenger last month.
“This tournament always has a strong doubles field, said Tecau. Winning here two years in a row, it’s a great accomplishment for us. Always have to beat some big servers on these fast conditions. That’s very good for [the] confidence to win here twice.”
“It’s really nice to start off the year like this,” said Rojer. “I know we did almost the same exact result last year. More importantly, like Horia said, [we] try to get better each match, get good preparation, try to improve as a team. I think that’s still what we both try to do.”