Rublev Rules Roost as Defending Champion Marches into Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Final
Third seeds Glasspool and Heliovaara down top seeds Mektic and Pavic to reach Doubles final at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium
Dubai, UAE – March 3, 2023: Andrey Rublev stormed into the ATP 500 final at this week’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, edging out childhood friend and No.7 seed Alexander Zverev in straight sets in front of a capacity crowd at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.
Rublev, the defending champion and World No.6, required a tiebreak to clinch the match 6-3, 7-6 (9) and continue his quest to become the first player since Roger Federer in 2015 to claim back-to-back Dubai titles. The loss ended Zverev’s hopes of reaching a first final since suffering serious injury at Roland Garros last June.
In a seesaw opening game that clocked in at just under 20 minutes, Rublev broke Zverev’s serve at the sixth attempt. He then repeated the feat twice more in four Zverev service games in the opening set, making light work of the German’s 200kph-plus missiles.
Conversely, the second set was deadlocked on serve until the tiebreak, when a relaxed Rublev converted a fifth match point to seal his first ATP Tour win over Zverev, a player who sits 10 places beneath him in the world rankings.
“I was thinking it was going to be a third set, and maybe that helped me,” said Rublev. “It was a super intense tiebreak. We are really good friends; we’ve known each other since we were 10 or 11 years-old in the juniors. He’s like an older brother to me, and he’s beaten me in our previous matches, so I knew I had nothing to lose.”
On reaching his second consecutive Dubai final, Rublev added: “It’s crazy, I have no words for the spectators and supporters here. All the players are grateful – thank you so much.”
Earlier in the day, in the first of the Doubles semi-finals, third seeds Lloyd Glasspool of the UK and Finland’s Harri Heliovaara downed Croatian duo Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 6-4, 6-2 in under and hour on Centre Court.
Yet to drop a set in Dubai, Glasspool and Heliovaara are chasing their fourth ATP Tour title, and second tournament win of the year after triumphing in January’s Adelaide International 1. They will face either Maxime Cressy of the USA and France’s Fabrice Martin, or Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen – the all-Belgian surprise package who have surged through the tournament after being promoted to the opening round as Lucky Losers.
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