Tennis: 'Ugly' Rublev downs Dimitrov to set up Shanghai final with Hurkacz

AFP , Saturday 14 Oct 2023

Feisty Andrey Rublev said he is trying to curb his "ugly" behaviour after beating Grigor Dimitrov at the Shanghai Masters on Saturday to set up a final with big-serving Hubert Hurkacz.

Andrey Rublev
Andrey Rublev of Russia, right, hugs Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria after beating him in the men's singles semifinal match of the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament at Qizhong Forest Sports City Tennis Center in Shanghai, China, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Photo: AP

 

Russia's Rublev defeated Dimitrov 7-6 (9/7), 6-3 in their semi-final and is yet to drop a set in Shanghai as he closes on his second Masters 1000 crown of the year.

In the first semi-final, the 16th-seeded Hurkacz from Poland blasted his way past Sebastian Korda of the United States 6-3, 6-4.

Rublev, the highest-ranked player left in the tournament at seven in the world, cut an angry figure at times and was especially irked by what appeared to be a drone overhead early on.

He also repeatedly whacked the net at one point and said afterwards of his outbursts: "It is not helping me at all and it looks really ugly.

"Some matches, like today, you feel more stressed and more pressure because it's a semi-final and you want to win, so it's tough to control."

The 25-year-old composed himself to get out of a hole at 0-40 in the first set to eventually hold serve for 3-3 in a game lasting 10 minutes.

Rublev then pounced at the first glimpse of an opportunity to break Bulgaria's Dimitrov for 6-5, only to be broken back immediately by the 18th seed as he served for the set.

The duo exchanged more thunderous groundstrokes in the tie break and both squandered a set point before Rublev sealed the set in 76 minutes when Dimitrov fired a forehand wide.

The 32-year-old Dimitrov is playing some of the best tennis of his career and broke at the start of the second set, with Rublev reacting by smacking the net three times with his racquet.

But Rublev, who has won 14 titles, got the break back for 2-2 and then repeated the trick to race to victory as Dimitrov quickly ran out of steam.

Rublev, who triumphed at the Monte Carlo Masters in April, said it was "special" to be in the final in Shanghai but felt sorry for the beaten Dimitrov, someone he regards as a friend.

"After the match I told him I'm really sorry," he said.

Barrage

Earlier, Hurkacz sent down 14 aces as he barrelled into the final.

The 26th seed Korda, who was contesting his first Masters semi-final, was always up against it in the face of a barrage.

The 26-year-old Pole did not face a single break point on his powerful serve and wrapped up the last-four encounter on his second match point after 77 minutes.

"Seb is a really tough opponent and great returner so you need to play well against him otherwise he ends up taking advantage of your shots," said Hurkacz, who has six titles already including winning the Miami Masters in 2021.

Hurkacz, who went into the semi-finals with the highest number of aces in the tournament, said his serve is "a big thing for me".

"It's really important to set up the point with the serve and if I am serving well that puts pressure on the opponent and they know they need to serve well," he said.

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