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'No war please': Russian star into final with peace plea

Andrey Rublev made a plea for peace after notching an eighth consecutive victory.

Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev in action at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev in action at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

ANDREY RUBLEV made a plea for peace after notching an eighth consecutive victory on Friday to move into his second final in as many weeks with a 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) win against Hubert Hurkacz in Dubai.

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 invasion of Ukraine.

The 24-year-old had told reporters in Dubai on Thursday that he believed in peace and unity and he reiterated the sentiment after his win over Hurkacz.

Rublev won the title in Marseille last Sunday and has battled through some tight situations this week in the Emirates, rallying back from a set down in each of his last three matches.

He admits he has surpassed his expectations this week and has little left in the tank for his final showdown with Novak Djokovic’s conqueror Jiri Vesely on Saturday.

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

“I feel completely tired, to be honest,” said Rublev.

“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.”

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

On Friday, the Russian survived 27 aces coming off Hurkacz’s racquet en route to a two-hour 13-minute victory. Rublev will next take on Vesely for the first time in the final.

Vesely, who is just the second qualifier to reach the men’s final in the Dubai tournament’s 30-year history, followed up his big shock over world No.1 Djokovic with a battling victory over Canadian No.6 seed Denis Shapovalov 6-7 (7/9), 7-6(7/2), 7-6(7/3) that lasted three hours and 12 minutes.

 - ‘Dream’ for Vesely -

The world No.123 is the lowest-ranked men’s semi-finalist in tournament history and is through to the biggest final of his career.

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The 28-year-old Vesely endured a tough 12 months last season as he suffered health issues for a long stretch after contracting Covid-19 before surviving a serious car accident ahead of the US Open.

Shapovalov served for the victory at 5-4 in the decider but Vesely pegged him back and marched towards a memorable victory and a place in the fourth ATP final of his career.

“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.”

Shapovalov is now 0-10 in career semi-finals at ATP 500, ATP Masters 1000 and Grand Slam events.

– © AFP 2022

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