Andrey Rublev has added his voice to criticism of the current ATP ranking system with the Russian world No 8 suggesting after winning his opening match in Dubai on Tuesday that it does not work in his favour.

Alexander Zverev, the German world No 7, recently described the revised system as “absurd” because he is ranked lower than Roger Federer even though the Swiss missed an entire year due to knee surgery.

The system was introduced to protect players who are unable to travel and compete because of the coronavirus pandemic. While players can add points to their tally, they do not drop the points accumulated from the previous season.

“If we would have the normal system, I would be like No 4 in the world I think. So what do you think is better for me, to be No.8 or No.4?” said Rublev when asked if he agreed with Zverev’s statements.

“With the system that we’re having now, for me, it’s much tougher to be No 4, so here is the answer.”

Rublev extended his winning streak at 500-level tournaments to 21 matches after he beat Finnish qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4, 6-4 in the second round in Dubai.

The second-seeded Russian, who has won his last four events at this level dating back to Hamburg last September, will next tackle American 15th seed Taylor Fritz in the last-16 stage.

Meanwhile, reigning US Open champion and Dubai top seed Dominic Thiem crashed out of the tournament to a rock-solid Lloyd Harris, who earned the first top-10 win of his career with a 6-3, 6-4 result against the Austrian.

The South African qualifier, who recorded his maiden top-20 victory last week over Stan Wawrinka in Doha, continues to hit new heights in the Middle East as he set up a third-round meeting with Serbian 14th seed Filip Krajinovic.

Thiem to skip Miami

The world No 81 was unstoppable on serve, dropping just one point behind his first serve throughout the 72-minute encounter.

Thiem will skip the upcoming Miami Open and says he needs some time to “regroup” ahead of the clay swing in April.

“I just need to reset myself a little bit to really go fresh into the clay season. Obviously right now I’m in a tough period and just it wouldn’t be the right thing to go to Miami,” explained the world No.4.

“Just make a little reset, regroup and hopefully have a good clay season. After these tough weeks, that’s my main goal now. Right now I’m not in the greatest shape in any way.”

Canadian third seed Denis Shapovalov said he plans to compete in fewer tournaments this season if the tennis tour continues to operate under strict coronavirus bubble conditions for players.

Shapovalov, who enjoyed a winning debut in Dubai thanks to a 6-1, 6-3 second-round success over German big-server Jan-Lennard Struff, says being confined to a hotel room at every tournament due to Covid-19 restrictions can take a mental toll on players.

“I definitely don’t want to play too much this year if it’s going to be a bubble life because it is extremely difficult mentally to be locked up like this,” the 21-year-old said.

“Of course it’s amazing to play, but as the weeks go on, you kind of lose that passion for tennis and a lot of players are struggling with that. So we’re trying to take the approach of minimising that as much as possible.”

Kei Nishikori maintained his undefeated record against last month’s Montpellier champion David Goffin by defeating the Belgian fifth seed 6-3, 7-6 (7/3).

The Japanese former world No.4 failed to serve out the match twice before grabbing the 79-minute second set in a tiebreak to post a fourth career victory over Goffin, who remains winless from three appearances in the Emirates. Nishikori faces Slovenian Aljaz Bedene next.


Second round

Lloyd Harris (RSA) bt Dominic Thiem (AUT x1) 6-3, 6-4

Filip Krajinovic (SRB x14) bt Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 7-5, 6-4

Aljaz Bedene (SLO) bt Lorenzo Giustino (ITA) 6-4, 6-3

Kei Nishikori (JPN) bt David Goffin (BEL x5) 6-3, 7-6 (7/3)

Denis Shapovalov (CAN x3) bt Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-1, 6-3

Hubert Hurkacz (POL x13) bt Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-3, 6-4

Karen Khachanov (RUS x8) bt Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4)

Lorenzo Sonego (ITA x17) bt Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-2, 6-2

Aslan Karatsev (RUS) bt Dan Evans (GBR x12) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4

Jannik Sinner (ITA x16) bt Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 2-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4

Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x4) bt Matthew Ebden (AUS) 4-1 - retired

Marton Fucsovics (HUN) bt Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP x6) 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-2

Dusan Lajovic (SRB x11) bt Malek Jaziri (TUN) 7-5, 6-2

Taylor Fritz (USA x15) bt Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)

Andrey Rublev (RUS x2) bt Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-4, 6-4