Croatian Borna Coric returned to the scene of one of his best wins, starting the Dubai championships on Tuesday with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over injured Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman was bothered by a knee injury which limited his effectiveness in the 76-minute match. Cric will next face a second Frenchman, Benoit Paire, who beat Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka on Monday. German Jan-Lennard Struff advanced to the second round beating Andreas Haider-Maurer of Austria 6-2, 6-4. Coric beat Andy Murray here in a 2015 quarter-final but went out in the second round a year later.
“I knew Gasquet was semi-injured, but I didn’t know what to expect,” the 50th-ranked Coric said. “I was really just trying to focus on myself. “Otherwise I could get lost in the match. I was just trying to be aggressive, trying just to move him as much as possible, not play only in one place.” Gasquet made the effort but was unable to get the win. “He did came back in the both sets, it was pretty good effort from him,” the winner said. “But I managed to stay calm. I didn’t panic. It was good.”
Coric said he first learned of Gasquet’s condition when the Frenchman cancelled a Friday training session at the Aviation Club. “I saw yesterday he played doubles. They won. I knew he was injured on Friday.” Coric added: “I was happy with my return, that got me through the match. I was not serving very well and was not happy with it.”