Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Dubai, UAE – March 2, 2023: Just days after visiting Dubai’s Museum of the Future, Alexander Zverev’s immediate future on court is looking good after he zipped into the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-finals with an assured victory over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.
The tall German, seeded seventh in Dubai this week, looked relaxed in the Thursday afternoon sun on Centre Court at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, seeing off Sonego 7-5, 6-4 to set up an exciting semi-final clash with second seed and defending champion Andrey Rublev.
Sonego, who beat fourth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets in round two, burst out of the blocks racing to a 0-40 score on Zverev’s service game. However, Olympic gold medallist Zverev, who is still making his way back after tearing ankle ligaments at last year’s French Open, battled back and the opening exchanges went with serve before Zverev assumed control. Utilising his height, range and reach, he dealt well with World No.67 Sonego’s serve to grab a decisive break in game 11, before holding to take the set.
Set two played out in similar fashion, with Zverev breaking in game five to edge into a 3-2 lead. Sonego, a three-time winner on the ATP Tour, was not going down without a fight though and, with Zverev serving for the match, the Italian raced to a 0-40 lead. Yet it was not quite enough as World No.16 Zverev clawed his way back, winning five straight points, including an ace on the final point, to book his spot in the final four.
“It’s been a difficult period over the past nine months, not playing tennis for such a long period in my life, but today shows the hard work is paying off and I’m pretty happy with what the progress is and how I’m playing,” said Zverev. “I’m happy to be in my first semi-final since June, hopefully it won’t be my last.
“I’ve just had to go back to basics and remember what I can control and that is my serve – the only shot in tennis you can control. It obviously helps that I hit five first serves in a row then the match was over.”
The 2018 and 2021 ATP Tour Finals champion will now play Dubai’s defending champion Rublev, who is seeded No.2 here this week. Rublev recovered from a set down and saved five match points on Wednesday night against Spanish opponent Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to secure safe passage into the quarterfinals and continue his quest to become the first back-to-back Dubai champion since Roger Federer in 2015.
He cut a more measured figure against Dutchman Botic Van De Zandschulp on Centre Court on Thursday. Rublev took the match to the World No.33, charging into a 3-0 lead. The defending champion showed glimpses of the form that has seem him win 12 titles on the ATP Tour and an Olympic gold medal, as he saw out the first set 6-3. He broke the Van De Zandschulp serve in game three of the second set and looked on course to wrap up a comfortable victory. However, his opponent had other ideas and, with Rublev serving for the match at 5-4, Van De Zandschulp broke back to level the score then took a 6-5 lead.
Rublev regained his composure, holding serve to take the set to a tiebreak and wrapped up a 6-3 7-6 (3) victory with an ace.
Friday’s semi-final promises to be an intriguing encounter between two players born exactly six months apart. Zverev, the elder of the two 25-year-olds has won all of their previous five meetings.
“I’ve never beaten him on the ATP Tour so hopefully I can go out there and put on good fight,” said Rublev of semi-final opponent Zverev. “I just need to play good, aggressive tennis and we’ll see what happens. He was winning so many great titles before he got injured. He’s a great player, he knows how to play against me, but I know how to play against him so it will be about little details.”
Third seeds through to doubles semifinals
With doubles dominating Court One on Thursday, third-seeded pair Lloyd Glasspool, from the UK, and partner Harri Heliovaara of Finland, made short work of their quarterfinal against Indian duo Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni.
Glasspool and Heliovaara, already title winners this year following victory in Adelaide in January, needed just 58 minutes to secure their place in the semi-finals, claiming a convincing 6-2, 6-2 victory. They will face top-seeded pair Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.
In the second quarterfinal of the day Maxime Cressy (USA) and Fabrice Martin (France) required just 1hr 8 mins to secure their place in the semi-finals with a 6-4 6-3 triumph over Dutch duo Robin Hasse and Matwe Middlekoop.
Boosted by their victory over fourth seeds Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski, Cressy and Martin produced a solid performance to earn a Friday night showdown with Belgian pair Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen.