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Defending champion Rublev gets first win over Zverev to reach Dubai final

The Russian will play either world No 1 Novak Djokovic or former No 1 Daniil Medvedev in the final

Andrey Rublev Dubai SF 1 AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Defending champion Andrey Rublev produced a brilliant performance as he broke his duck against Alexander Zverev to reach the final of the Dubai Open.

Beaten in all five of their previous matches, Rublev held his nerve at the end, finally sealing the deal on his sixth match point as he won 6-3, 7-6 (8)victory and set up a final against either world No 1 Novak Djokovic or former No 1 Daniil Medvedev.

“In the end, yeah, was dramatic,” Rublev said. “I had in the beginning 6-4, two match points, I didn’t make it. Then he had set point. He missed a bit out. Again, him and my set point, match point.

“In the end I was able to make it with a last crazy rally. Then, yeah, was two sets so I was lucky.”

Confident Rublev turns the tables

Zverev had never even dropped a set in their five previous battles and the Russian had only made it to a tiebreak once.

But the pair had not played for two years and with the German still feeling his way back to form and full confidence after six months out through injury, Rublev sensed his chance.

An early break set him on his way and though Zverev broke back for 2-2, the German was making an uncharacteristic number of mistakes on his usually trusty backhand.

Rublev broke again to lead 3-2 and then grabbed another break to clinch the set, ripping a forehand winner crosscourt to move ahead.

Zverev pushes Rublev hard but can’t break through

Zverev upped his intensity and began to get his teeth into the match but neither man were giving up much on their own serves.

Whenever the question was asked of him, Rublev came up with some huge hitting, especially on his forehand, to keep Zverev at bay.

The German could not even force a break point on the Rublev serve in the second set, while the Russian had a match point at 6-5, only for Zverev to find a big serve and good forehand to save it, going on to force a tiebreak.

But it was Rublev who stayed strong, clinching victory on his sixth match point, having saved a set point of his own.

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