Dubai | Vesely follows up upset to face Rublev in final


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The Russian invasion of the Ukraine has been paramount in Russian players’ minds and Andrey Rublev, appearing at the Duty Free Tennis Championships this week, is no exception as he pleaded for peace following his eighth consecutive victory to move into his second final in as many weeks with a 3-6 7-5 7- (5) win against Hubert Hurkacz in Dubai.

“It was my first ATP 500 semi-final and I think the only way to get through is to fight until the last point. I’m very happy. Jiri Vesely

The Russian No.2 seed signed the camera lens on court with the message, “No war please”, clearly stating his feelings about his nation’s aggressive military action.

The 24-year-old had told reporters 24-hours earlier when the news of the invasion spread, that he believed in peace and unity and he reiterated the sentiment after his win over the fifth seeded Pole.

Rublev won the title in Marseille last Sunday and in partnership with the Ukranian Denys Molchanov, also won the doubles.

This week in the Emirates he has battled through some tight situations rallying back from a set down in each of his last three matches and admits he has little left in the tank when he takes on Novak Djokovic’s conqueror, Jiri Vesely in Saturday’s final.

“I feel completely tired, to be honest,” Rublev said after the two-hour 13-minute victory.

“Before the tournament I told my team, before we flew here, I already was quite tired after Marseille, I said, ‘I don’t know how (Stefanos) Tsitsipas, he wins two years in a row Marseille and two years in a row final here’. I don’t know how he did it.

“Have to be something incredible what he did. I couldn’t even imagine before that it was something that tough. This week I did the same and I still don’t know how, to be honest.”

The Russian world No.7 was 0-2 against Hurkacz coming into the contest and was admittedly exhausted after making the semi-finals in Rotterdam, and then winning Marseille, and now reaching the semi-finals in Dubai, all in three consecutive weeks.

Having reached the championship match, Rublev will be seeking a 10th career title and fifth at the ATP 500 level on Saturday.

Jiri Vesely survives three tie-break sets to make final

David Gray/Getty Images

Vesely, world ranked a lowly 123, is just the second qualifier to reach the men’s final in the Dubai tournament’s 30-year history and is also the lowest-ranked men’s semi-finalist to be recorded at the event.

He followed up his big upset of world No.1 Djokovic with a battling three hour and 12-minute victory over the Canadian sixth seed Denis Shapovalov 6-7(7) 7-6(2) 7-6(3).

The 28-year-old Vesely Czech has endured a tough 12 months last season having suffered health issues for a long stretch after contracting Covid-19 and then survived a serious car accident ahead of the US Open.

Shapovalov served for a place in the final at 5-4 in the decider, but Vesely pegged him back and marched towards a memorable victory to reach his fourth Tour final.

“It was very difficult, especially after not making the first set point in the first set. It puts you down a little bit. I think I’m having a dream run here so far so I think I was just trying my best to really enjoy it as much as possible,” said an elated Vesely, who returns to the top-100 on Monday.

“It was my first ATP 500 semi-final and I think the only way to get through is to fight until the last point. I’m very happy.”

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