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Ricky’s preview and picks for the Dubai second round: Djokovic vs. Khachanov and Murray vs. Sinner

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during his first round match against Lorenzo Musetti of Italy at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis ATP Championships 2022 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 21 February 2022. EPA-EFE/ALI HAIDER

By Ricky Dimon

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will continue their Dubai campaigns following much different first-round victories on Monday. Djokovic is going up against Karen Khachanov on Wednesday, while Murray is facing Jannik Sinner.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matches.

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. Karen Khachanov

Djokovic and Khachanov will be squaring off for the sixth time in their careers and for the second time at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships when they meet again during second-round action on Wednesday. The head-to-head series stands at 4-1 in favor of Djokovic, who cruised 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of this event two years ago. This is their first encounter since the 2020 French Open and Khachanov is bidding for his first win over Djokovic since pulling off a 7-5, 6-4 upset in the 2018 Paris Masters title match.

Playing his first tournament of the year following the debacle in Australia, Djokovic opened with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Lorenzo Musetti on Monday. The top-ranked Serb is now 42-6 lifetime in Dubai with five titles. Khachanov advanced on Tuesday, when he held off Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-7(1), 7-5. The 26th-ranked Russian has already won 11 matches this year and he is coming off a semifinal showing in Doha (lost to eventual champion Roberto Bautista Agut 2-6, 6-3, 7-5). Khachanov will likely put up more of a fight than Musetti, but with a match under his belt Djokovic should be once again off to the races in Dubai.

Pick: Djokovic in 2

Jannik Sinner faces former world No. 1 Andy Murray in Dubai. EPA-EFE/DEAN LEWINS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

(WC) Andy Murray vs. (4) Jannik Sinner

Murray’s second match at tournaments has been a problem dating back to last year. In 2022 he lost in the second round in Rotterdam, Queen’s Club, Cincinnati, Winston-Salem, Rennes, San Diego, Antwerp, and Vienna. Now the 34-year-old Scot is coming off three consecutive second-round exists this season (Australian Open, Rotterdam, Doha). Following up especially difficult wins has been the main issue for Murray, and that is exactly what he has to do on Wednesday after outlasting Christopher O’Connell 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-5 in two hours and 51 minutes on Monday.Having to go up against Sinner won’t help. Murray won their only previous meeting 7-6(4), 6-3 last fall in Antwerp, but that was when Sinner was wearing down at the end of a long and successful season. The 10th-ranked Italian is rolling now, with an 8-1 record this year that includes a quarterfinal run at the Aussie Open. Sinner had to save three match points during a 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 defeat of Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Tuesday, but he can obviously recover much better than Murray at this point in their respective careers. Based on Murray’s recent trend of results, this should be one-way traffic.

Pick: Sinner in 2

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.