Dubai tennis: I am super happy to be the champion, says Andrey Rublev

Andrey Rublev poses with the trophy after winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday. (Picture courtesy Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships)
Andrey Rublev poses with the trophy after winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday. (Picture courtesy Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships)

Rublev tames Czech giant-killer Vesely to clinch his second-straight ATP title



by

Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Sat 26 Feb 2022, 10:39 PM

Last updated: Sat 26 Feb 2022, 10:57 PM

After the longest semifinal day in the history of the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, the singles final lasted just 80 minutes on Saturday.

Andrey Rublev produced an astonishing level of tennis as the gifted Russian shotmaker outclassed Czech qualifier Jiri Vesely 6-3 6-4 in the final to earn his second straight ATP 500 series title, having won the Open 13 Championship in Marseille, France, last week.

While both players were locked in marathon battles in their respective semifinals on Friday, Rublev showed no ill effects of his gruelling two-hour-23-minute last-four encounter against big-hitting Pole Hubert Hurkacz.

Rublev’s complete dominance of Vesely was remarkable given the second-seeded Russian’s slow starts in the tournament, having lost the opening sets in his previous three matches in Dubai.

On Saturday, the 24-year-old was in no mood for a long night against a player who had survived a three-hour-12 minute slugfest against Denis Shapovalov in Friday’s second semifinal.

Rublev hit 13 aces, 28 winners in a ruthless display and his returns were just as brilliant.

Vesely, the giant-killer who had stunned Marin Cilic, Roberto Bautista Agut, Novak Djokovic and Shapovalov to become only the second qualifier to reach the Dubai final, was completely overpowered on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Czech never got a whiff of chance on Rublev’s serve after being broken in the fourth game of the first set.

The flag-waving Czech fans on the Centre Court expected a fightback from Vesely in the second set.

But Rublev broke their spirit by breaking Vesely’s serve in the first game of the second set.

The tall left-hander did raise hopes of a comeback by converting his fourth breakpoint in the sixth game to be back on serve.

Rublev, though, was in the zone, forcing three break points in the next game with his power and precision from the back of the court.

In the face of relentless pressure from the young Russian, Vesely wilted, losing his serve with a double fault.

That was the final nail in the coffin for the Czech as Rublev went on to complete an emphatic straight-set victory, denying the Dubai tennis event the chance to witness a three-setter in the final on its 30th anniversary.

The last time Dubai saw a three-set final was in 2014 when Roger Federer beat Tomas Berdych in the title decider.

The only man who wasn’t complaining was Rublev who had just finished his 13th match (in singles and doubles) in two weeks in two continents.

“Maybe, I can finally rest for a week now,” Rublev said during the on-court interview.

“I am super happy even though I am very tired. Jiri is also very tired. He played two qualifying matches and then he beat top players (in the main tournament), starting from the first round.

“So I am super happy to be the champion today. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Vesely, the former world number 35 who is hoping to put his career back on track after a nightmarish battle with Covid-19 last year as well as dealing with the trauma of a horrific car crash, will take a lot of positives from an amazing week in Dubai.

“It’s been a crazy week for me. I started in the qualifiers, played three-set matches. Then I saw the draw (in the main tournament). I just thought of trying my best and playing close matches. And suddenly, I was winning one match after another. It was crazy,” Vesely said.

“It’s been an amazing week and an amazing tournament. I hope to come back and have great results again.”

In the doubles final, fourth seeds Tim Puetz of Germany and Michael Venus of New Zealand stunned top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia 6-3 6-7 (5/7) 16-14.

Results

Doubles final

(4) Tim Puetz (GER) / Michael Venus (NZL) beat (1) Nikola Mektic (CRO) / Mate Pavic (CRO) 6-3 6-7 (5/7) 16-14

Singles final

(2) Andrey Rublev (RUS) beat (Q) Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-3 6-4


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