December 17, 2021
Andrey Rublev booked a place in his first Mubadala World Tennis Championship final with a disciplined display against Denis Shapovalov.
World No.5 Rublev, playing in his second MWTC, took the first set against world No.14 Denis Shapovalov in a tie-break. Canadian Shapovalov was playing in his second match of the Championship following his victory over US No.1 Taylor Fritz on Thursday and, after losing the first set, he burst out of the blocks in set two, taking a 3-0 lead.
Rublev dug deep to hold his serve in game four to get on the board at 3-1 and was up against it in his next service game, needing two big forehand winners to save break point and close out the game. The rest of the set went with serve before it was the turn of Shapovalov to hold his nerve with his own serve to close out the set 6-3.
The deciding set was a tense affair with both players upping their game in an attempt to book a spot in the final. But at 30-30 and 4-5 down, Shapovalov produced an unforced error, missing the baseline with a big forehand to hand Rublev match point. Shapovalov then double faulted, allowing Rublev to take a 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 victory.
“It was super tough. It was only my third day here, and Shapovalov had already played one match on Thursday. But I feel like I played really well. It was a good match and I hope the fans enjoyed it,” said a relieved Rublev.
“It is great to come and play here, a really good challenge ready for the new season, and to have fans back at our events is great. It’s a completely different sport to play without fans. It’s a different story for players and fans, so it’s great to have that feeling again.”
Rublev insisted he hasn’t thought about victory in Saturday’s final, adding: “I came here to play some matches, get some practice, play against some great players. It gives you great confidence heading into the new season.”
Earlier in the day, US No.1 Taylor Fritz secured fifth place after a back-and-forth battle with British No. 2 Dan Evans. The first set went with serve for the first five games before Fritz broke Evans in game six. Evans broke back immediately, then held serve in game eight to square the match. Both players held serve, taking the set to a tie-break, which Fritz edged to take a 1-0 lead.
The second set went with serve until game 10, with Evans digging deep to break his opponent and take the set 6-4, sending the match into a super tie-break. With both players going for the win, Fritz held firm to seal the decider 11-9.