Andrey Rublev at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.


Dubai tennis: Rublev to defend title at final

Defending champion Andrey Rublev marches into the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship final on Saturday  (March 4) after defeating No. 7 seed Alexander Zverev.

Rublev edged out his childhood friend Zverev in straight sets in front of a capacity crowd at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Friday (March 3).

World No.6 Rublev 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.

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.” ICA/Expat Media

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