Andrey Rublev was momentarily overwhelmed by late-match stress but recovered his poise on Thursday to book into a Dubai semi-final for the third time.
The defending champion managed a 6-3, 7-6 (3) defeat of Dutchman Botik Van De Zandschulp, but needed to steady his nerves to wrap up victory on a fourth match point in just over one and three-quarter hours.
A day earlier, the second seed escaped another close call. forced to save five match points in a struggle before beating Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
The second seed let his guard slip as he was serving for his quarter-final win leading a set and 5-3, with Van De Zandschulp fighting off three match points in the ninth game before breaking Rublev for 5-all.
As the match went into a tiebreaker, Rublev finally regained control, serving it out with an ace.
“At 5-4 I got tight, he broke me, we started all over again,” the winner – also frustrated at one point by a drone overhead – said.
“But from 3-3 in the breaker I played four good rallies, that’s why I won.”
Rublev will be playing his first semi-final since 2022 when he takes on seventh seed Alexander Zveerev after the German defeated Lorenzo Sonego 7-5, 6-4.
Zverev has won all five of the pair’s previous meetings.
“I’ve never beaten Sasha on the pro tour,” he said. “I just hope I can make a good fight.
“He knows how to play tennis, we know each other’s games well. it will be all about the little details.”