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Andrey Rublev advances to the championship match in Belgrade on Saturday.

Red-Hot Rublev Cruises Past Fognini In Belgrade

Second seed faces World No. 1 Djokovic in Sunday’s final

Andrey Rublev produced another scintillating performance at the Serbia Open on Saturday to ease past Fabio Fognini and set a blockbuster final with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic at the ATP 250 event in Belgrade.

The World No. 8 had produced an exhibition of fierce baseline hitting in his quarter-final clash with Taro Daniel on Friday and Rublev fired a similar streak of brutal forehand winners on his way to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Fognini at the Novak Tennis Center.

“Today I played even better [than against Daniel],' said Rublev in his on-court interview. "I think [it was] my best match of the tournament so far. It’s good that every match I’m playing better and better.”

Rublev suffered a tough three-set defeat to Jannik Sinner in the third round at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters but has bounced back in style in Serbia. He battled through a three-set clash with Jiri Lehecka in his opening match but there were no such problems against Fognini in Saturday’s semi-final as Rublev showed once again how big a threat he poses on the clay in a quickfire 62-minute win.

“It’s going to be fun," said Rublev on his meeting with Djokovic in Sunday's final. "Tomorrow, I have nothing to lose, I can go and enjoy it.

"He will play at home, it will be his moment, so the best I can do is fight and try to do my best.”

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Rublev had Fognini under pressure early but the Italian recovered 0/40 to hold serve in the opening game of the match. There was nothing Fognini could do to stop Rublev reeling off the next five games, however, as the second seed struck the ball with power and precision on his way to the first set.

Fognini struggled for fluency in his second tour-level semi-final of the year, but he was given scant room to express himself by his opponent. The Italian battled hard to carve out his only three break point opportunities of the match as Rublev served for it at 5-2 in the second set, but the second seed repelled the threat before clinching victory after Fognini fired a backhand wide.

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Rublev was relentless on serve throughout. He fired five aces and dropped just nine points on serve in the match, according to Infosys ATP Stats. The 10-time tour-level titlist will seek to produce a similar display against Djokovic, one of the all-time great returners on the ATP Tour.

The victory brings Rublev level with Fognini at 5-5 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series. Rublev has now triumphed in the past four meetings between the two.

Rublev chases a third tour-level title of the season in Sunday’s championship match, having captured trophies in Marseille and Dubai in February. It will be the second ATP Head2Head meeting between Djokovic and Rublev, after the Serb ran out a 6-3, 6-2 winner at the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals in November.

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