Fifth seed Andrey Rublev claims his 50th win of the season by beating World No. 19 Grigor Dimitrov and moves through the Rolex Shanghai Masters final to face Pole Hubert Hurkacz on Sunday.
World No. 7 Andrey Rublev secured his spot at the Rolex Shanghai Masters championship match - his fourth career Masters 1000 final, powering past 18th seed and good friend Grigor Dimitrov with a 7-6(7), 6-3 victory after one hour and 50 minutes on Saturday night.
“It’s not easy when you win matches against friends because you feel both sides,” he commented in his on-court interview.
“You feel sad, but at the same time, you want to win. It’s a mix of feelings.”
Rublev hit Stadium court to play for the seventh time on tour Dimitrov, whose impressive run in Shanghai led to a ninth appearance at a Masters 1000 semifinal.
A grueling first-set tiebreak, which saw the Moscow-born emerge victorious 7-6(7) after 76 minutes, helped dictate the outcome of a high-level semifinal clash staged at the Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena.
A physically demanding opening set took a toll on the 32-year-old Bulgarian despite showcasing great athleticism throughout the tournament.
The intensity imposed by Rublev’s ferocious ball-striking off both wings pushed his rival to the limit.
Nonetheless, the former World No. 3 stepped up the pressure in the sixth game when leading 3-2 but failed to convert any of the four breakpoint opportunities he earned.
The players continued to challenge one another through an edgy opener until the Monte-Carlo reigning champion found a way to turn the tables, converting his first breakpoint in the 11th game, fending off a set point in the process before squaring off 6-6, which led to the tiebreaker he eventually won.
Dimitrov regrouped to start the second set strong; adjusting his tactics, he brought his opponent forward, which proved effective, producing an early break and holding at 2-0.
The advantage, however, was short-lived as the 25-year-old fought back to set level at 2-2.
The eight-time ATP titlist seemed to have lost his rhythm, struggling behind his serve as well as physically.
From there, Rublev dominated the encounter, notching the second set 6-3 and the match after almost two hours.
The man, who is bidding to earn a second career Masters 1000 crown, has stayed perfect all week, yet to drop a set on his way to a first championship match at the tournament.
He won 71 percent of the first serve points, converting three of four breakpoints he earned.
On Sunday, he will face former Miami Open champion Hubert Hurkacz, who delivered a consistent performance to outlast American Sebastian Korda 6-3, 6-4 after 77 minutes, progressing into his third consecutive Masters 1000 final - Miami 2021, Montreal 2022, and Shanghai 2023.
After punching the first ticket into the final, the Polish player outlined: “I’m just really happy with my performance today. I was serving well, playing some good groundstrokes, and definitely putting pressure on Sebi from the ground.”
Untroubled on serve, the 16th seed dominated play, winning 85 percent of points behind his first serve, converting two of four breakpoint opportunities.
Moreover, the 26-year-old fired 14 aces, facing no breakpoints and committing zero double faults.
“I’m working on being difficult to play against,” Hurkacz added.
“It’s the same with every opponent. They try to come out with their best foot forward that day, and they’re trying to [implement] their tactics or plan against you. You’ve just got to stay mentally strong and really battle.”
The World No. 17 and Rublev are even 2-2 in their series; both will be looking to capture their second title at this level on Sunday.