Russian star Andrey Rublev managed to conquer his early-season nerves to ease past Mikhail Kukushkin at the Qatar Open.
Rublev, the second seed and last year’s runner-up, won 6-4 6-2 in just over an hour to set up a quarter-final clash with Pierre-Hugues Herbert following the Frenchman’s 6-1, 6-3 victory against fifth seed Laslo Djere.
“It was my first match of the season, and my first match in two months,” said Rublev, 22, after his second-round win.
“I was a little bit nervous, but in the end, I’m happy that I accepted this and I’m happy with my performance.”
Former champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga failed to progress to the last-eight stage after losing to Miomir Kecmanovic.
Third seed Tsonga, who won the Doha title in 2012, lost five games in a row as Kecmanovic closed out a convincing 7-6 (9) 6-1 win.
The 20-year-old Serbian will now face Marton Fucsovics after he secured a 6-1 6-4 victory over Turkish wild card Cem Ilkel.
In the day’s final match, French qualifier Corentin Moutet knocked out number four seed Milos Raonic.
Moutet won two tie-breaks to seal a surprise 7-6 (4) 7-6 (4) victory.
Fernando Verdasco awaits the 20-year-old in the next round after the veteran Spaniard, 36, came from a set down to beat Filip Krajinovic 7-5 4-6 6-0.
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