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Rublev beats Zverev for 1st time, advances to Dubai final

TENNIS-ATP-UAE

Russia’s Andrey Rublev hits a return against Germany’s Alexander Zverev (not pictured) during their ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship semi-final match in Dubai, on March 3, 2023. (Photo by Karim SAHIB / AFP) (Photo by KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Defending champion Andrey Rublev advanced to the final at the Dubai Championships by beating Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-6 (9) for his first tour-level win over the German.

Rublev needed six match points to finally put away Zverev. The Russian will face either top-ranked Novak Djokovic or former No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in the final.

The 25-year-old Rublev had lost all five previous matches against his longtime friend, who had reached his first semifinal match since the French Open last June.

The sixth-ranked Rublev saved a set point in the second-set tiebreaker.

“Today when I was going on court I was thinking I have nothing to lose. He always beat me, so why I need to be tight,” said Rublev, who last year beat Jiri Vesely for the title.

Djokovic and Medvedev play in the other semifinal match. Djokovic has a 20-match winning streak; Medvedev has won 12 in a row.

Medvedev beat Djokovic in the final of the 2021 U.S. Open for his first - and only - major title and in the process denied Djokovic of the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s singles since 1969.

But Djokovic has won the last four of their meetings.