Dubai Tennis Championships : Andrey Rublev downs Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to keep title defence alive
Dubai : Andrey Rublev produced one of the comebacks of the 2023 season so far on Wednesday at the Dubai Tennis Championships, where he came back from the brink to beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 1-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(3) in a second-round clash, here.
Facing five match points at 1/6 in the second-set tie-break, Rublev’s title defence at the ATP 500 hung by a thread. Yet, he stayed focused to reel off seven points in a row and level the match in dramatic fashion, before holding his nerve again in the decider for a stunning two-hour, 25-minute victory.
It was the third time this year that Rublev has saved match points to triumph, and the second time in a week. The 25-year-old saved two match points en route to victory against Holger Rune in the fourth round at January’s Australian Open and three match points before he defeated Tallon Griekspoor in his Doha opener seven days ago.
“It happened already [three times] this season and I’m super happy that I’m able to win these matches against [top players,” Rublev was quoted as saying by ATP Tour.
“The beginning [of today’s match] wasn’t good. I got frustrated. He started really well, he was hitting really hard, and I didn’t have many options, but then, little by little, I started to play and started to fight.
I started to be positive, and I made this crazy tie-break comeback from 1/6 that I’ve never done in my life before I’m really, really happy,” he added.
Davidovich Fokina had made a strong start to the pair’s second ATP Head-to-Head meeting. The World No. 29 raced to the first set after claiming what later proved to be the only two breaks of serve in the match.
Rublev cited his own mental discipline as the key to maintaining belief when Davidovich Fokina looked set to complete the win. The victory improved Rublev’s record in Dubai to 11-2. He is now into his fourth straight quarter-final at the event, where he would become the first back-to-back champion since Roger Federer in 2014-15 if he can repeat his 2022 title run.
His quarter-final opponent will be Botic van de Zandschulp. The Dutchman earlier produced a comeback of his own, rallying to a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory against Mikael Ymer.
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