Rublev Downs Dimitrov, Sets Hurkacz Final Clash In Shanghai

  • Posted: Oct 14, 2023

Rublev Downs Dimitrov, Sets Hurkacz Final Clash In Shanghai

Fifth seed is chasing his second ATP Masters 1000 title of 2023

They may be good friends off the court, but Andrey Rublev and Grigor Dimitrov held nothing back during their semi-final clash Saturday at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.

It was the fifth-seeded Rublev who prevailed 7-6(7), 6-3 in a highly physical encounter to book a championship-match meeting with Hubert Hurkacz at the ATP Masters 1000 event in China. Rublev saved a set point before claiming a lung-busting 76-minute first set in a tie-break and then rallied from 0-2 in the second set to reach Sunday’s final.

“It’s not easy when you win matches against friends, because you feel both sides,” reflected Rublev, who is now into his fourth Masters 1000 final. “You feel sad, but at the same time you want to win. It’s a mix of feelings.”

Despite each pushing their opponent to their physical limits by continuously striking firmly off both wings from the baseline, the pair’s mutual respect was showcased at a key moment in the first-set tie-break. Rublev led 3/2 and fired an unreturned first serve which Dimitrov believed had clipped the net, but no let was detected by the on-court system. Rublev graciously offered to replay the point, but Dimitrov insisted the call should stand.

“I feel sorry for the situation in the tie-break at 3/2, because I wanted to replay the point,” said Rublev. “Grigor behaved like a real champion and said, ’It’s not [your fault], so he gave me the point. Maybe because of this point I was able to win the tie-break.”

Despite falling behind early in the second set, Rublev reeled off five straight games from 0-2 to take control as Dimitrov appeared to show signs of fatigue. The World No. 7 powered 13 winners to Dimitrov’s one in the second set and completed his win having converted three of four break points he earned in the match.

Rublev has now won all 10 sets he has played during his Shanghai run. The 25-year-old is 18-6 at Masters 1000 events for season, a tally which includes claiming his maiden title at that level in Monte-Carlo. Currently fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, Rublev can also further strengthen his Nitto ATP Finals qualification hopes by lifting the trophy in Shanghai.

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Rublev and Hurkacz will enter Sunday’s final at 2-2 in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series. Rublev has won their two most recent encounters, which took place in 2022 in Dubai and Indian Wells.

“I’m thinking only to rest and try to recover for tomorrow, because Hubi is so tough to play,” said Rublev of the Hurkacz clash. “He’s one of the players that you don’t want to face because he can beat everyone. With his style of the game, the way he serves, the way he hits the ball. We’ll see, I just want to take my time to recover and to be as [ready] as possible for tomorrow.”

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