Russian home favourite Andrey Rublev rallied from a set down to beat Canadian Denis Shapovalov 4-6 6-3 6-4 in the semi-final of the St Petersburg Open yesterday to set up a title clash with Borna Coric.
Rublev saved five of six break points to advance and took advantage in the final set when Shapovalov needed treatment on his shoulder.
Victory also improved Rublev’s chances of qualifying for the season-ending ATP Finals next month which has two spots left.
The 22-year-old moved up to eighth in the race to London, leapfrogging French Open semi-finalist Diego Schwartzman.
World number one Novak Djokovic, French Open champion Rafael Nadal, U.S. Open winner Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev have already qualified for the ATP Finals.
In the other semi-final, Croatia’s Coric returned to the final for a second consecutive year after he, too, dropped the opening set against Milos Raonic before turning the tables on his Swiss opponent with a 1-6 6-1 6-4 victory.
Raonic fired 18 aces in the contest but Coric converted three of five break points to seal his place in the final.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
(x denotes seeding):
Borna Coric (CRO x7) bt Milos Raonic (CAN x6) 1-6, 6-1, 6-4
Andrey Rublev (RUS x3) bt Denis Shapovalov (CAN x2) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
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