Rublev final
Andrey Rublev in action against Botic van de Zandschulp in the quarterfinal of the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Andrey Rublev is not having any easy days in Dubai since the opener, but the defending champion improved his game at the crucial stage to overcome Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3, 7-6 in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Thursday.

However, a bigger test awaits Rublev in the form of Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals on Friday, and the second seed, who has a 0-5 record against the German, feels he needs to be more calm while facing his nemesis.

Stay more focused

“I’m happy with my game, maybe I need to stay a bit more focused and stay calm. Everything today was under control, sometimes I start to get stressed because I wanted to win as I feel I have had the chances. It almost cost me a third set against van de Zandschulp,” Rublev said at a press conference.

The defending champion breezed to 3-0 lead in the first and won the set with ease. After an early break when he was 2-1 up in the second, if one thought that the world No 6 was going to seal the game in his favour in quick time, then there was a twist in the tale.

SPO 230302 TENNIS Andrey Rublev VSAKLANI-13-1677781007761
Defending champion had trouble with his own, putting himself under more pressure. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Missed opportunities

Leading 5-4, and after missing a couple of match points, the 25-year-old lost his serve and the contest went to a tiebreaker.

“Today I was just trying to play aggressive,” Rublev said as he faced an opponent against whom he didn’t have a great record. “I was doing that really well. At one stage, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and the other I trying to talk positive. After losing the serve, I said, OK, restart, let’s try to be calm, because otherwise I’m going to lose this match. I was holding my serve quite well and every time on his serve I had chances.”

Remarkable comeback

Rublev saved five match points in the second round to beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 1-6, 7-6, 7-3 in a remarkable comeback.

“There is no point to stress during all the match. Just be there and we’ll see what’s going to happen. Then on the tiebreak at 3-All, I played really well four points.

The world No 6, talking about the future clashes against greats like Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, says even after a perfect day, there is no guarantee that you will win.

“When you play top players like Novak or Rafa, you have to play the perfect day, mental-wise and physical-wise. You have to be fresh. Shots have to be really clean and clear idea how to play. Serve has to be on a good part and return, then you have good chances to fight against these top players. If you don’t feel something, like today you don’t really feel the serve or you’re physically tired or you show weaknesses mentally, they use it straight away.”