Pouille closing in on 3rd straight ATP final in Dubai

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Pouille closing in on 3rd straight ATP final in Dubai
Lucas Pouille of France, right, celebrates after he beat Yuichi Sugita of Japan during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, March 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Lucas Pouille moved to within a win of reaching three consecutive tennis finals when he overcame Yuichi Sugita 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Championships on Thursday.

The second-seeded Pouille won in Montpellier last month and was runner-up in Marseille last week.

Standing between the Frenchman and a place in the final is seventh-seed Filip Krajinovic of Serbia, who beat Evgeny Donskoy of Russia 6-1, 6-2.

Malek Jaziri of Tunisia won the matchup of wild cards when he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Jaziri, who knocked out top seed Grigor Dimitrov in the first round, will meet third-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in the semifinals.

Bautista Agut defeated Borna Coric of Croatia 7-6 (4), 6-4 to reach the Dubai semifinals for the first time in six attempts.

Pouille, after losing the first set to Sugita, ramped up his game considerably. After one ace and nine winners in the first set, he smashed 13 aces and 37 winners in the next two.

“The loss of the first set helped me relax a bit, and I started serving much better,” Pouille said.

He beat Krajinovic in their only previous match, in the Marseille quarterfinals a week ago.

One break in each set decided the matchup between Jaziri and Tsitsipas. Jaziri got the decisive break in the third set at 3-2 when he rushed to the net to retrieve a drop shot and produced a stunning crosscourt winner.

“I finished very late yesterday (to beat Robin Haase),” Jaziri said. “I was in bed at 2:30, so I didn’t sleep a lot. I had less than 16 hours to prepare for the match today. So, during the match, I was up and down a little bit, but I’m happy to win.”