The top seed Kei Nishikori has made the winning debut in Dubai, beating Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 21 minutes for the sixth win over the Frenchman in eight matches, the fourth in a row. Unlike in some previous encounters, Paire was competitive and focused, creating eight break points although he wasted them all, suffering three breaks from as many chances he gave to Kei to finish on the losing side.
Both players had more unforced errors than winners and the Japanese will try to reduce the number of break points given to his rivals in the following rounds. Benoit earned the first already in the second game after a forehand winner, denied after a terrible shot from the same wing in the next point.
Nishikori moved ahead a few minutes later when Paire hit a double fault in game three and he had to dig deep in the next game, fending off no less than seven break points (five with winners) to confirm the lead and move 3-1 ahead.
In the rest of the set, Kei held thrice to bring it home with a volley winner in game ten, gaining confidence before the rest of the encounter. Unlike in the opener, Benoit was far away from the break chances and he suffered a break in game five after a double fault to seal his fate in this match.
Serving to extend the clash, the Frenchman netted a routine forehand in game nine to give serve away and hand the win to Kei who secured the 12th triumph in 2019 so far. The young Pole Hubert Hurkacz has won the tenth ATP match and the second on the ATP 500 level after a 6-3, 7-5 victory over a qualifier Corentin Moutet in an hour and 18 minutes.
The Pole lost 15 points in 11 service games, never facing a break point and creating seven opportunities in the return games, breaking Corentin once in each set to seal the deal and reach the last 16. Hubert forged the lead with a return winner in game four, serving well throughout the set and hitting three winners in game nine for a 6-3.
The Frenchman fended off two break points in the opening game of the second set and we saw seven good service games, leaving Moutet to serve at 4-4. He saved a break point in game nine before Hubert secured a break in game 11 after a questionable backhand down the line winner, moving over the finish line with a service winner in the following game to earn important win and points.
The 26-year-old Belarusian qualifier Egor Gerasimov claimed the first ATP 500 win, beating Robin Haase 7-6, 7-6 in an hour and 55 minutes, delivering better numbers from the second serve and playing on a higher level in the crucial moments to cross the finish line.
World no. 15 Daniil Medvedev has won 14 of 17 matches played in 2019 before Dubai but that tally will not be increased in the desert, suffering an unexpected 6-3, 6-3 loss to a qualifier Ricardas Berankis in an hour and 27 minutes.
Last year in Moscow, Berankis managed to take a set away from the Russian and he did everything right on the court today, losing serve once and taking power off from Medvedev's initial shot to produce ten break chances, converting four and sailing into the second round.
Daniil had too many unforced errors in tough windy conditions, unable to impose his strokes and losing the temper over some calls, that didn't help him either. Ricardas scored a break already in the first game of the match and Medvedev sprayed a backhand error in game nine to hand the opener to his rival.
The Lithuanian raced into a 5-1 lead in set number two with back-to-back breaks, sealing the deal with a forehand down the line winner at 5-3 for the place in the second round and his first ATP 500 triumph since Basel 2016!