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Lucas Pouille defeats Ernests Gulbis in straight sets to reach the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships second round on Tuesday.

Pouille Passes Gulbis Test In Dubai

Coric upsets fifth seed Gasquet to reach the second round

Two days after a three-set loss to Karen Khachanov in the Open 13 Provence final, Lucas Pouille successfully returned to action at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

The Dubai resident, who reached the semi-finals in 2017 (l. to Murray), defeated former Top 10 player Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-4 to reach the second round. Pouille played the crucial points expertly throughout the 79-minute clash, breaking serve on each of his three break point opportunities, while saving eight of the nine chances his Latvian opponent managed to create.

"I have won many matches over the past three weeks, so I'm arriving here with a lot of confidence," said Pouille. "I think that helped me in the tough moments today. Especially on the break points, I served pretty well and played good rallies. That is very positive."

Pouille will now contest a second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting in four days against Khachanov, after the World No. 41 showed his class late in two tie-break sets to beat Denis Istomin 7-6(1), 7-6(0).

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Borna Coric began his campaign in style, beating fifth seed Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-3 in 76 minutes. ”He did come back in the both sets,” said Coric. “It was a pretty good effort from him... but I managed to stay calm. I didn't panic. It was good.”

Coric will meet another Frenchman for a place in the quarter-finals, after Benoit Paire’s three-set win over Yoshihito Nishioka on Monday. Coric leads their FedEx ATPHead2Head series 1-0.

The 2015 semi-finalist (l. to Federer) hit six aces and broke the Frenchman’s serve on four occasions to move into the last 16. “I think I was returning pretty good today,” reflected Coric. “I was happy with my return. I think it got me through the match also. I was not serving very well. I was not happy with my serve. I need to go and practice some serves now. Otherwise... it was good performance.”

Pierre-Hugues Herbert saved three match points in a thrilling 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(8) first round win over Portugal’s Joao Sousa. The Frenchman rallied from 4/6 down in the final-set tie-break and saved another match point at 6/7 before eventually clinching victory after two hours and four minutes. Herbert will meet third seed Roberto Bautista Agut for a spot in the last eight.

Filip Krajinovic recovered from a bagel first set to beat Thomas Fabbiano 0-6, 6-2, 6-2. The Rolex Paris Masters finalist won just 12 points in a quick opening set, but found a way to wrestle control away from the Italian before cruising to victory. The Serbian will meet 2016 runner-up Marcos Baghdatis in the second round.

Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff also advanced to the second round, needing just 56 minutes to dispatch of Andreas Haider-Maurer 62, 6-4. Struff hit 13 aces and dropped just two points behind his first serve in a dominant serving performance.

Did You Know?
Borna Coric reached the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-finals, on his debut, as a lucky loser in 2015. The Croatian beat third seed Andy Murray en route to the last four, before falling to eventual champion Roger Federer.

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