Roger Federer maintained his perfect record against Fernando Verdasco to reach the Dubai Championships quarterfinals on Wednesday, while top-seeded Kei Nishikori was eliminated.
Federer converted his first match point when Verdasco sent a forehand wide, finishing off a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win that improved his record against the Spaniard to 7-0. Nishikori, though, lost 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 against Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.
This was win No. 50 for Federer in Dubai, having won the tournament seven times.
“It’s a big number,” the 37-year-old Federer said when told it was his 50th win. “I’m not sure if I’m going to get to 100. Let’s put it that way.”
He’s only three matches away from a 100th tournament title, though, and will next face Marton Fucsovics of Hungary, who beat Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 6-4, 6-2.
Federer has only played Fucsovics once, at last year’s Australian Open, but has trained with him in Zurich and said he’s been impressed with the Hungarian’s game.
“I know Marton quite well actually,” Federer said. “He’s improved. He likes the fast surfaces. He likes to play up in the court. He has the power when required. I think it’s going to be definitely a match that’s going to test me tomorrow.”
The second-seeded Federer is now an even bigger favorite for the title with Nishikori out. It was Hurkacz’s first win against top-10 ranked player and earned him a place in his first ATP tour quarterfinal.
“It’s a huge win for me,” Hurkacz said. “It gives me huge confidence. I’m going to try to keep going forward.”
Hurkacz converted six of his seven break points, including one when Nishikori was serving for the first set at 5-4. He also broke for a 3-1 lead in the final set with a backhand down the line and again in the last game when the Japanese player hit a forehand long.
“He played well today,” Nishikori said. “I didn’t serve well when I wanted to. It happens. That cost me some important points. I think he really played well in the important games.”
Hurkacz will next play fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who eased past Belarusian qualifier Egor Gerasimov 6-3, 6-1 in less than an hour. Tsitsipas beat Hurkacz last week in Marseille en route to his second career title.
Gael Monfils also advanced by knocking out Cypriot wild-card entry Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-2 and will face Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis, who ousted Denis Kudla of the United States 6-4, 6-1.