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 – February 25 2022: Andrey Rublev will face qualifier Jiri Vesely in Saturday’s final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships after the number two seed claimed a tense 3-6 7-5 7-6 victory over Hubert Hurkacz and Vesely outlasted sixth seed Denis Shapovalov 6-7 7-6 7-6.
“We could not have wished for two better semi-finals” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “It is a pity that someone had to lose as all four deserved their place in the final, but we congratulate Andrey Rublev and Jiri Vesely and look forward to seeing which of them will claim the trophy.”
Rublev, who is attempting to win his second title in two weeks after claiming the Marseille trophy on Sunday, had started his last two matches on the back foot, suffering an early break of serve, losing the opening set and then fighting back to win in the third. And he did exactly the same again in the semi-finals, surviving a barrage of 27 aces from Hurkacz and squeezing his way through by the narrowest of margins.
“After the first win I said whatever happen this week is already bonus,” said Rublev. “Like I said, I’m tired and I don’t really have much energy, so try not to spend extra. If you can save a bit of energy, try to do it. On court just to try to fight till the end. Even if you don’t have energy, just do your best and that’s it, yeah.
“I wish to play shorter. I don’t know, today during the match I was thinking – I mean, yesterday I think I was losing 5-0 in less than 15 minutes or something like that. I was telling to myself, No way, it’s only 15 minutes and one set down. Please at least try to make it one hour.
“Today I was thinking the same. I lost the first set 6-3 in 20-something minutes. It was so fast. He broke me. Till the end of the set he was serving aces. I was telling to myself the same, Try second set to at least go to the tiebreak, at least it will look better the score and the time. I was just saying, Okay, keep fighting no matter what.”
Rublev lost his first service game to fall behind 2-0 and that was enough to decide the outcome of the first set. Break point opportunities continued to be at a premium in the second set, with just one chance falling to Rublev which Hurkacz saved with an ace to hold for 2-2. Then, as it appeared the set was heading for a tiebreak, Rublev broke at 6-5 to take the match to a deciding set.
Yet again, in the closest of battles, each player had only one chance to break serve as the match moved to a dramatic tiebreak, which Rublev secured with just one mini-break to lead 6-4 before winning it 7-5.
But the drama of that match was eclipsed by the monumental battle that followed, as Vesely needed three hours 12 minutes to follow-up his quarter-final defeat of Novak Djokovic.
Vesely, at 123 the lowest-ranked semi-finalist in the 30-year history of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, had several windows of opportunity, including in the first set two break points that would have left him serving at 5-3 and a set point at 7-6 in the tiebreak which he lost 9-7.
Vesely also squandered the only break point of the second set at 1-1, but he dominated the tiebreak to win it 7-2 to take the match to a decider. The final set saw Shapovalov break to lead 5-4 but he failed to serve out the match and Vesely once again took charge in the tiebreak to win it 7-3.
“Of course I was physically tired, but I think in matches like that, you just got to fight until the last point,” said Vesely. “It’s a semifinal of a 500 event, it’s a big thing, a huge thing for me. You never know when you get to chance to be in the semis again. I was really trying hard to do everything possible.
“The week is just fantastic. Really enjoying it. Really enjoying here in Dubai. Coming here many times during the year as well. Yeah, just try to keep going. I think this week can be really a big changer in my career. It has to. I have to take all the positives with me. I have to take the fact that I beat really amazing guys. That’s something that I have to really take with me and believe in myself much more than maybe sometimes I do.”
“We have been treated to the most closely-fought and entertaining matches that we could have imagined, as the outcome of each remained in the balance until the very end.” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “Now we eagerly look forward to seeing who will celebrate our 30th anniversary by becoming the 19th winner of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.”
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.