Rublev To Meet Fellow Nitto ATP Finals Contender Shapovalov In St. Petersburg SFs

Shapovalov beats 2016 finalist Wawrinka

Andrey Rublev and fellow Nitto ATP Finals contender Denis Shapovalov will meet in the St. Petersburg Open semi-finals on Saturday.

Third seed Rublev moved into the final automatic qualification spot for next month’s Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 15-22 November, after he beat Great Britain's Cameron Norrie 6-2, 6-1 in just 63 minutes.

The 22-year-old Russian rises to No. 9 on 3,109 points, 34 points ahead of 10th-placed Matteo Berrettini (3,075), in the battle to clinch one of the two remaining singles spots at the season finale.

Rublev trails Shapovalov 1-2 in the ATP Head2Head series, with his lone win coming in five short sets at the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. 

“Andrey is one of the best players on the planet right now,” said Shapovalov. “He was playing very well at the past couple of tournaments [he played]. I suppose tomorrow’s match will be very tough. Sometimes our game style looks the same, we both play aggressively and we like to hit winners, so it’s going to be tough but interesting.”

The global COVID-19 pandemic has not halted Rublev’s momentum this season. He has a 32-7 match record in 2020 — 15-3 with two titles (the Qatar ExxonMobil Open and Adelaide International) prior to the five-month suspension, and 17-4 with one title (the Hamburg European Open) since the ATP Tour resumed on 22 August.

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Shapovalov now sits just 30 points behind No. 11 Gael Monfils (2,860 points) in the FedEx ATP Rankings after he battled past fifth seed and 2016 St. Petersburg Open finalist Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-4, 7-5 in one hour and 41 minutes.

Shapovalov won 84 per cent of his first-service points, but won just seven of his 25 second-serve points. The 21-year-old Canadian is now 17-11 on the season, which includes a run to the Internazionali BNL d'Italia semi-finals in Rome (l. to Schwartzman).

Looking ahead to playing Rublev, Shapovalov, who has Russian heritage, admitted to fans, "Please, take pity on me!"

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