Pouille, Bautista Agut Close In On Dubai Final

Bautista Agut closes in on 14th ATP World Tour final

Lucas Pouille extended his run of form on Thursday by reaching the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-finals. The second-seeded Frenchman drew on his greater experience to beat eighth seed Yuichi Sugita of Japan 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 53 minutes.

"I think after I lost the first set, I started to be a bit more aggressive, especially on the return," said Pouille. "I was very close from the baseline, even sometimes inside the court to return the second serve. That put him under pressure [and] I think that made the difference." He will next attempt to defeat seventh seed Filip Krajinovic of Serbia for a place in his third ATP World Tour final of the season.

Pouille has a 5-3 record in ATP World Tour finals – including one triumph at the Erste Bank Open 500 in Vienna. In recent weeks, he captured the Open Sud de France crown (d. Gasquet) and four days ago lost in the Open 13 Provence final (l. to Khachanov).

The Frenchman faces a familiar foe in Krajinovic, who cruised past Russian Evgeny Donskoy, 6-1, 6-2, in 77 minutes. Their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting came last week at the Open 13 Provence, where Pouille prevailed in a three-set quarter-final.

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Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut moved to within one victory of a place in his 14th ATP World Tour final (7-6 record). The 29-year-old edged past Borna Coric of Croatia 7-6(4), 6-4 in one hour and 43 minutes for a place in the semi-finals, where he will meet wild card Malek Jaziri of Tunisia.

Third seed Bautista Agut, who beat Juan Martin del Potro for his second ASB Classic trophy in January, recovered from a 1-3 deficit in the first set. He broke Coric to love at 4-4 in the second set. “I think I played very good tennis,” said Bautista Agut. “[It] was not easy to beat Borna [as] he's very solid. He was hitting very good serves and playing very aggressively… I didn't rest all match.”

Watch Hot Shot: Coric's Inventive Winner

Jaziri, who beat World No. 4 Grigor Dimitrov in the first round, proved to be too strong for his fellow wild card, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and three minutes. He will now contest his third ATP World Tour semi-final and first since August 2015 at the Winston-Salem Open.

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