Second seed Pouille survives Sugita to reach Dubai semis

Dubai: Lucas Pouille reached the semifinals at the Dubai Championships on Thursday after staging a comeb ack against Japan’s Yuichi Sugita to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
French second seed Pouille, who fired two aces in the final game to extend his total on the night to 14, will play for a place in the final against seventh seed Filip Krajinovic, who beat Russian Evgeny Donskoy 6-1, 6-2.
Pouille has recovered well considering his late arrival in Dubai after playing in the Open 13 final in Marseille on Sunday.
But the world number 15 said that he had had to battle to get past Sugita.
“I knew it would be a tough one, he’s won plenty of matches in the past six, seven months. He’s a very good player,” Pouille said.
“I knew I had to play some good tennis to win.”
Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut marched into his first semifinal since January as the third seed beat Croatian Borna Coric 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 in their quarterfinal.
Bautista Agut is playing the Gulf event for the sixth consecutive year. He won the Auckland title at the season’s start but his results have since tailed off.
The Spaniard, ranked number 23 in the world, will face a challenge in the final four against Tunisian Malek Jaziri, who knocked out Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 for a place in his third career semifinal.
The world number 117 lost semis in Moscow six years ago and in Winston-Salem in 2015. He is the first Arab to go this far in Dubai since 2002, when Younes El Aynaoui reached the final and lost to Fabrice Santoro.
Jaziri said that, after a late match the previous evening, his preparation had been rushed.
“It was a big fight today, not that easy at all,” he said.
The 19-year-old Tsitsipas was the youngest player in the draw and booked his spot by beating German sixth-seed Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Jaziri made an impression in the first round by upsetting world number four Grigor Dimitrov for his first defeat of a top 10 player.
Bautista Agut garnered a reputation in Dubai thanks to his efforts in 2015, when he shocked Andy Murray in a quarterfinal.
The Spaniard now has eight wins in 2018 as he makes amends for his mid-season tail-off.
“I am happy, I played very good tennis,” Bautista Agut said. “It was not easy to beat Borna. He’s very solid.” — dpa