By Alessandro Mastroluca
- Dan Evans v Fabio Fognini  | First meeting
- The winner will face Yoshihito Nishioka or Pierre-Hugues Herbert
DUBAI, UAE – In his second appearance in Dubai, Dan Evans will start his campaign against Fabio Fognini. The Brit No.1 is 5-16 against Top-15 opponents.
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Dan Evans v Fabio Fognini  | First meeting
The British No.1 Dan Evans will come back to Dubai for the second time and the first since reaching the second round in 2017. Coming off a quarter-final loss to Gael Monfils in Rotterdam, he will meet World No.11 Fabio Fognini for the first time.
The Italian No.2 suffered from a left ankle injury in Rotterdam, where he lost his debut match in straight sets to Karen Khachanov in his lone match since the Australian Open. Consequently, he withdrew from Marseille deciding to come back in Dubai before travelling to Cagliari to lead Italy in the Davis Cup qualifier against South Korea.
Evans looked quicker and fitter recently. He worked intensely to get strong legs, adding a good set of lungs and an increased resilience to his inspired weaponry. So far, he also lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the ATP Cup, Andrey Rublev in the Adelaide International quarterfinal, before his Rotterdam quarter-final run. Only the Australian Open second-round defeat to Yoshihito Nishioka stands out like a sore thumb.
Both players needs to be explosive on return to create an edge in the rally, and Evans could have a slight advantage as Fognini wasn’t 100% fit in his last match. Fognini, however, is perfectly able to deliver jaw-dropping winners and dictate play. His unpredictable game can make Evans’ life harder. He will probably try to open up the court for himself attacking the Brit’s forehand, aiming to make his opponent move.
Evans, as well, will aim to take the initiative building the rallies through his sliced backhands. The World No.31 usually gives his best when he can change the pace, not when he’s forced to react to the opponent’s tempo. He looks to have enough chances to improve his 5-16 win-loss record against Top-15 players.
Prediction: Evans in three sets
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