TennisSection previews the 2023 Dubai Championships as Alexander Zverev takes on Christopher O’Connell in the second round on Wednesday, March 1, 2023.
Alexander Zverev earned a confidence-boosting win over Jiri Lehecka on Monday. But the tests won’t stop for the No. 7 seed who will play a red-hot Christopher O’Connell in the second round of the Dubai Championships. Who will prevail?
It has been a pedestrian season for Alexander Zverev so far. He entered this year’s Dubai Championships with just three wins from five tournaments. And what’s worse, five of his six defeats this season came against players ranked lower in the rankings. And he appeared well on his way to another damaging defeat on Monday when he lost the first set to Jiri Lehecka. Zverev said in the aftermath, he had to find a way to halt the Czech’s charge, having lost to Lehecka in the opening week of the season at the United Cup. Eventually, he raised his game and came away with a three-set win.
Christopher O’Connell, meanwhile, scored a massive upset, beating World No. 54 Emil Ruusuvuori 7-5 6-4 to maintain his fine form during this year’s Middle East. O’Connell, who scaled the qualifying hurdles at the Dubai Championships, is yet to drop a set in three matches as he hammered away 11 aces and converted three of his 11 break points to extend the Finn’s turbulent year. Can he reach a second successive ATP quarterfinal?
Alexander Zverev and Christopher O’Connell have not played each other on the ATP Tour. Wednesday’s match at the Dubai Championships will be their first official meeting. O’Connell is making some huge strides in the rankings, having climbed to #92 following his excellent run to the last eight in Doha. And by virtue of that upset win over Ruusuvuori, he has vaulted 10 spots in the live rankings. His serve looks polished and even against a decent returner like Ruusuvuori, he was still dominant and only faced two break points. Zverev will need to work his socks off to get the W. He cannot afford to play passive tennis in the hope O’Connell will misfire, because the Aussie is so clean from the baseline. We like the look on O’Connell to snatch a set in this one, but Zverev should be able to summon his best tennis when he needs to.
Free Tennis Prediction and Pick: Alexander Zverev in 3 sets
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