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Rublev makes best possible UTS debut, winning Frankfurt final against Dimitrov
Andrey “Rublo” Rublev has won the UTS Frankfurt final, defeating Grigor “G-Unit” Dimitrov 3-1 to claim his debut title in the format
Andrey “Rublo” Rublev has shown why he’s been a consistent fixture in the world’s top 10 over the past few years, with the Russian debuting on the UTS Tour and immediately winning his first title in Frankfurt, with a 3-1 victory over Grigor “G-Unit” Dimitrov on Sunday.
In a final that had everything, from jaw-dropping rallies, to bromance, round-the-post shots and stolen quarters, Rublo prevailed 14-13, 12-17, 11-10, 17-16 for the narrowest of victories at UTS Frankfurt.
A humble Rublev declared that, “[I was] more lucky today,” after the match, adding that it was an encounter where, “I was laughing more, but the frustration was still the same.”
Rublo steals high-quality first quarter
It was a quarter dictated by the duel between Rublo’s big forehand and G-Unit’s resilient backhand slice. The Russian was dialled in initially, racing out to an 8-3 lead with some accurate forehand punches keeping Dimitrov on the back foot.
G-Unit sparked to life mid-quarter, however, and powered his way back to within reach courtesy of some excellent backhand cross-court shots. However, the turning point of the quarter came within the final seconds, as Dimitrov played his card and won to make the score 12-12, while Rublev missed a forehand long on his card, to head into quarter point at 12-13.
Not one to quit, the world No 6 played a brilliant rally on quarter point, coming out victorious in a 16-shot exchange to force a deciding point at 13-13. Rublo’s forehand held up under pressure, with several big shots getting him across the line to win a tight 14-13 opening quarter.
Mid-quarter bromance between Rublev and Dimitrov
While on the court this clash was all business, between quarters the two ATP Tour veterans sparked something of a bromance.
“I love playing Andrey, I like him a lot. I like you in the court and outside the court. He’s a great guy,” volunteered G-Unit during his interview, to which Rublo responded, “If I was a girl I am completely in love with Grigor. As a man, I am even in love with Grigor.
“We will finish with a romantic dinner today.”
There was no such romance in the second quarter, however, as G-Unit stormed back into the match to level it at 1-1 quarters. Rublo may have hit the shot of the match with an awe-inspiring round-the-post forehand, but it was Dimitrov who had the Russian’s number over this eight-minute patch of play, coming away a clear 17-12 winner in the only quarter that wasn’t competitive.
“Nothing to say, Grigor killed me, and that’s it,” stated Rublo, matter-of-fact after the quarter. “I didn’t want to miss, but I missed – it happens.”
Fine margins and dramatic comebacks decide UTS Frankfurt champion
The remaining two quarters of this match saw peak UTS drama, with both players making epic comebacks to force deciding points in the third and fourth quarters.
Rublo was the first to come from behind, having fallen behind 10-5 in the third quarter and staring down the barrel of a 1-2 quarter deficit. The Russian dialled in, and powered his way past G-Unit, winning the final six points of the quarter to claim it 11-10.
“I was super lucky,” he said. “Deciding point – you never know – it’s whoever is more lucky today. I won two quarters on deciding point, which is super lucky.”
In the fourth quarter, it was Dimitrov’s turn to make a stunning comeback.
After a seesawing quarter that saw Rublev pull ahead, then get pegged back with G-Unit winning his card, before pulling ahead again, championship point came for the world No 6 at 16-11. That is, until Dimitrov defended five consecutive championship points, levelling the quarter at 16-16 and threatening to force sudden death to decide the UTS Frankfurt final.
But it was Rublo who would prove more clutch when it mattered, extinguishing Dimitrov’s comeback on his sixth attempt to win UTS Frankfurt and claim his debut title in the format.