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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Lucas Pouille

In a rematch of the Marseille final, Lucas Pouille converted all three break points dispatching Karen Khachanov, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, to reach the Dubai quarterfinals.

Photo credit: Open 13 Provence Facebook

Only 72 hours passed before Lucas Pouille got another shot at Karen Khachanov.

The second-seeded Pouille made the most of it.

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Three days after bowing to the 21-year-old Russian in the Marseille final, Pouille gained a measure of revenge sending his practice partner packing from Dubai, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Pouille converted all three break points he faced, advancing to his third quarterfinal in five tournaments this season.

The 15th-ranked Frenchman will play for a trip to his second straight Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semifinal when he faces Yuichi Sugita next.

The eighth-seeded Sugita permitted just seven points on first serve holding off Jan-Lennard Struff, 7-6 (4), 6-4, in 90 minutes.

The 29-year-old Japanese, who arrived in Dubai with just one win in four tournament starts this season, reached his first quarterfinal since Stockholm last October.

Evgeny Donskoy pulled off the upset of the day crushing fourth-seeded Damir Dzumhur, 6-1, 6-1, in a mere 49 minutes. Empowered by his run to the Delray Beach quarterfinal last week, Donskoy reached the Dubai quarterfinals for the second straight year.  

Last February, Donskoy saved three match points shocked Roger Federer 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5) in the Dubai second round for the biggest win of his career.

Another day, another French conquest for Borna Coric.

The 21-year-old Coric beat Benoit Paire, 6-1, 6-4, a day after toppling fifth-seeded Richard Gasquet, who was bothered by a groin strain, 6-4, 6-3.

Coric, who upset then world No. 3 Andy Murray to reach the 2015 Dubai semifinals as a lucky loser, charged into his second quarterfinal of the year and third quarter in his last four tournaments.

The 50th-ranked Croatian will play Roberto Bautista Agut for a spot in Friday's final four.

The third-seeded Spaniard staved off Pierre-Hugues Herbert, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-1.

Bautista Agut, who opened the season defeating Juan Martin del Potro to win Auckland, is bidding for his eighth career title. Bautista Agut has won three of four prior meetings with Coric, including prevailing in eight of the 10 sets they've played.

Playing for the second time in three days, Pouille and Khachanov, who are good friends, staged another three-set battle.
B Midway through the second set, Khachanov crushed a forehand down the line that was initially called out. He successfully challenged, Hawk-Eye showed the ball touched the sideline and the Moscow native had the break and a 4-2 lead. Khachanov banged through 12 of 14 points as barged out to a 5-2 lead before forcing the decider.

Pouille fended off a pair of break points opening the final set.

Serving at 2-3, Khachanov double faulted then scattered an inside-out forehand wide as Pouille broke for 4-2.

Pouille pumped his sixth ace confirming the break with a love hold—his eighth of the last nine points for 5-2.

Slithering a drop shot over the net, Pouille dragged his opponent forward then looped a lob winner inside the baseline for match point.

A strong serve down the middle sent Pouille into his second straight Dubai quarterfinal in one hour, 40 minutes.

The 24-year-old Pouille, who won the Montpellier title earlier this month, is playing for his sixth career title.


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