Rublev Claims Big Win In Battle For London, Reaches St. Petersburg Final
Russian to face Coric in final
Andrey Rublev claimed an important win in his bid to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time on Saturday, beating fellow London contender Denis Shapovalov 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the St. Petersburg Open final.
The Russian saved five of six break points to recover from a set down for the second time this week. Rublev, who also trailed Ugo Humbert by a set in the second round, moves ahead of Diego Schwartzman into eighth position in the FedEx ATP Battle For London with 3,229 points following his semi-final win.
“The match was unreal, in my opinion,” said Rublev. “The level was high from both sides. Both of us deserved to win. Shapovalov was leading and he had break point in the second set, so everything could [have] been in two sets for him… One or two points decided the match and today it was for me.”
Just two qualification positions remain vacant for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held from 15-22 November at The O2 in London. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev have already qualified for the elite eight-man event.
Rublev gains 120 FedEx ATP Rankings points for reaching his fourth final of 2020 (3-0). Shapovalov remains in 12th position with 2,830 points, 350 points behind ninth-placed Schwartzman who occupies the final qualification spot.
FedEx ATP Battle For London
The World No. 10 levels his ATP Head2Head series against Shapovalov at 2-2. Rublev entered the semi-final encounter on a two-match losing streak against the Canadian, having claimed his only previous victory against Shapovalov in a final-set tie-break at the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in 2017.
"I think it was a good tournament. I have played three good matches and losses sometimes happen," said Shapovalov. "I started the match well and Andrey is in good shape and he deserved to win. It was an awesome fight. I like to come and play in St. Petersburg. I’d like to come back here next year."
Rublev is attempting to capture his second ATP Tour trophy in Russia and his fourth crown this year. Last year’s Moscow champion has already claimed trophies in Doha, Adelaide and Hamburg this season and is in second place on the 2020 ATP Tour wins leaderboard with 33 wins this year. Only Novak Djokovic, who owns a 37-2 record in 2020, is ahead of Rublev in this category.
Rublev will face last year’s runner-up Borna Coric in the final. The Croatian rallied to beat 2015 champion Milos Raonic 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 in one hour and 56 minutes. Rublev is unbeaten in three ATP Head2Head matches against Coric.
Shapovalov played with consistent depth and aggression to gain the only break of the first set at 3-3. The Canadian forced his opponent behind the baseline and fired multiple forehand winners up the line to take the lead. Shapovalov closed the set after 45 minutes, striking a powerful first serve into Rublev’s backhand.
Shapovalov gifted Rublev a route back into the match in the second set, committing four double faults in a single service game at 1-2. Rublev served well to maintain his advantage and moved forward to strike short balls and drag his opponent out of position.
“In that game [at 1-2], he was 40/0 up and he went to take a risk,” said Rublev. “He went for a hard second serve and he missed [by] a little bit… When you are 40/0 up and then suddenly out of nowhere it is deuce, it is not easy. He started to feel pressure… When he gave me this opportunity, I used it.”
The five-time ATP Tour titlist returned with depth and often struck early in rallies to gain the initiative in the deciding set. Rublev finished the match in top form and claimed victory on his second match point when Shapovalov drove a backhand into the net.