Tennis

Andrey Rublev ‘cannot imagine a better start’ after topping Daniel Evans at Dubai Championships

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Second-seeded Andrey Rublev beat Daniel Evans 6-4, 7-5 in the first round of the Dubai Championships on Tuesday, just two days after winning his ninth tour title.

The Russian, who defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime in the final at the Open 13 tennis tournament in Marseille, France, on Sunday, next faces Soonwoo Kwan after the South Korean beat Ilya Ivashka 6-3, 6-2.

The seventh-ranked Rublev also won the doubles title in Marseille with Ukrainian partner Denys Molchanov.

« I arrived at the hotel maybe at 2 am today, » Rublev said in his on-court interview Tuesday. « I slept maybe six or seven hours. I was thinking that probably no chance for me to win, and here I am, I won my first round so I’m really happy. I cannot imagine a better start. »

Karen Khachanov will face top-seeded Novak Djokovic in the second round after the Russian beat Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-7 (1), 7-5.

On Monday, Djokovic won his first match of the year when he beat Lorenzo Musetti 6-3, 6-3. The top-ranked Serb couldn’t defend his Australian Open title last month because he was deported from the country for being unvaccinated, but seemed at ease on the court after walking out to a raucous standing ovation.

« I have to be satisfied with my tennis, especially after not playing for two and a half, three months, » Djokovic said. « Of course, there were moments when I played great, there were moments when I made a couple of unforced errors in a row uncharacteristically. But it’s normal to expect that [in my] first game after a while. »

Fourth-seeded Jannik Sinner outlasted Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3 and will next face Andy Murray.

American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald topped seventh-seeded Aslan Karatsev of Russia 7-5, 6-3 to set up a second-round match against Filip Krajinovic of Serbia.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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