Felix Auger-Aliassime earned victory on his debut at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Tuesday. However, he was made to work hard at the ATP 500 event, clawing past American Maxime Cressy 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3 to reach the second round.

The Canadian survived a serve-and-volley onslaught from a resilient Cressy, finding a number of stunning passing shots in pressure moments to triumph after three hours.

“He has not the most common game. But that is why he is difficult to play. You don’t have to face an opponent like him. He is quite unique and that is why I think he got me last time,” said Auger-Aliassime, who lost to Cressy at Wimbledon last year. “I think I was a bit unprepared and wasn’t able to stay as composed as I did today.

“I was sharp when I needed to. It was unfortunate it had to go three sets, but to be able to break him finally, for the first time since we’ve played together, was good.”

Auger-Aliassime arrived in Dubai off the back of a run to the semi-finals in Doha, where eventual champion Daniil Medvedev stopped him. The 22-year-old, who also fell to Medvedev in the quarter-finals in Rotterdam earlier this month, will next face Italian Lorenzo Sonego after improving to 8-4 on the year.

After winning a tight opening set, Auger-Aliassime was unable to cope with the 25-year-old’s proactive game in the second set, with Cressy clubbing 16 winners in the second set to level. However, the fourth seed remained patient on return and earned the crucial break in the fourth game of the third set, before remaining strong on serve to advance against Cressy, who hit 27 aces and 25 double faults.

Auger-Aliassime has levelled his ATP Head2Head series against Cressy at 1-1, gaining revenge for his first-round defeat to the World No. 36 at Wimbledon last year. The World No. 9 is chasing his fifth tour-level title and first of the season this week.

Daniil Medvedev extended his winning streak to 10 matches when he cruised past Italian lucky loser Matteo Arnaldi 6-4, 6-2 to reach the second round in Dubai.

The third seed has been in red-hot form in February, capturing consecutive titles on hard courts in Rotterdam and Doha. Full of confidence, Medvedev quickly made his mark against Arnaldi, striking 20 winners to seal victory after one hour and 31 minutes.

“It is never easy playing someone you have never seen before,” Medvedev said. “I actually didn’t know how he plays, if he plays aggressive or defensive. It was kind of in the middle. It was not easy in the beginning, I played better in the second set. He is young, he had good results in Challengers. When it is like this you have the potential to be very high, but you never know if it is going to happen, so I can only wish him luck.”

The World No. 7, who is competing in Dubai for the first time since a first-round exit in 2019, will next meet Alexander Bublik. The World No. 46 Bublik advanced after Bulgarian qualifier Alexandar Lazarov retired when trailing 1-6, 0-1.

The 22-year-old Arnaldi competed at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan last year. He won his second ATP Challenger Tour title last month and was aiming to earn his first tour-level win against Medvedev.


Fifth seed Hubert Hurkacz also advanced to the second round on Tuesday but was given a scare by Alexander Shevchenko before clinching a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7) win. The 22-year-old lucky loser Shevchenko came out strongly in pursuit of his maiden ATP Tour main-draw win, decisively breaking Marseille champion Hurkacz’s serve in the sixth game to claim the opening set.

Hurkacz fought his way back into the pair’s ATP Head2Head meeting, however, and ultimately prevailed in a tie-break that saw seven points go against serve. The 26-year-old, a semi-finalist in Dubai in 2022, will take on qualifier Pavel Kotov in the second round.

In other action, Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp upset sixth seed Karen Khachanov 7-5, 6-2, while Australian Christopher O’Connell defeated Finn Emil Ruusuvuori 7-5, 6-4. Eighth seed Borna Coric advanced after Daniel Evans retired due to injury at 2-2 in the first set.

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