Andrey Rublev defeated Alexander Zverev for the first time in his career on his way into Sunday’s final at the ATP Dubai event.

The defending champion came to the court against his German opponent trailing 5-0 and without having won a set.

“But he began reversing that trend with a 6-3, 7-6 (9) victory into the title match at the Aviation Club.

Rublev hopes to join five-time champion Novak Djokovic and eight-time champion Roger Federer as the only men to successfully defend the title here.

The winner needed six match points to finally move through, with Rublev delivering a running cross-court winner from the net to end the struggle after two hours.

“Today I had nothing to lose,” he said. “So why be tight. If he beat me it would just be another time.

“He was the one who had to be tight, these are the thoughts I had.

“I was reading the ball well, once I broke him (in the first game) I felt better. It was a dramatic second set.

Rublev began by winning a 12-minute opening game, securing a quick break of the German.

The second seed responded well when he lost serve in the fourth game, breaking straight back in the fifth as Zverev could not gain traction.

Rublev won his first-ever set in the series as he landed a winner on the sideline after more than three-quarters of an hour on court, with Zverev hampered by 13 unforced errors off his usually reliable backhand.

Rublev hung tough in the second set to finally produce the breakthrough success.

“I was thinking there would be a third set,” he said. “I was preparing mentally for that.

“But I had a really good return at 9-all, we had some crazy rallies. It was a super -intense┬átiebreak. I don’t know what to say.”


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