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Shanghai Masters 2023: Rublev beats Dimitrov, sets up final with Hurkacz

Andrey Rublev beats Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(7), 6-3 in a gripping Shanghai Masters semifinal on Saturday and will play big-serving Pole Hubert Hurkacz for the title.

Russia’s Rublev is yet to drop a set in Shanghai as he closes on his second Masters 1000 crown of the year, having triumphed at Monte Carlo in April.

In the first semifinal, the 16th-seeded Hurkacz blasted his way past Sebastian Korda of the United States 6-3, 6-4.

Rublev, the highest-ranked player left in the tournament at seven in the world, cut an angry figure at times and was especially irked by a drone flying overhead early on.

The 25-year-old composed himself to get out of a hole at 0-40 in the first set to eventually hold serve for 3-3 in a game lasting 10 minutes.

Rublev then pounced at the first glimpse of an opportunity to break Bulgaria’s Dimitrov for 6-5, only to be broken back immediately by the 18th seed as he served for the set.

The duo exchanged more thunderous groundstrokes in the tiebreak and both squandered a set point before Rublev sealed the set in 76 minutes when Dimitrov fired a forehand wide.

The 32-year-old Dimitrov is playing some of the best tennis of his career and broke at the start of the second set, with Rublev reacting by whacking the net three times with his racquet.

But Rublev, who has won 14 titles, got the break back for 2-2 and then repeated the trick to race to victory as Dimitrov quickly ran out of steam.

Earlier, Hurkacz sent down 14 aces as he barrelled into the final. The 26th seed Korda, who was contesting his first Masters’ semifinal, was always up against it in the face of a barrage.

The 26-year-old Pole did not face a single break point on his powerful serve and wrapped up the last-four encounter on his second match point after 77 minutes.

“Seb is a really tough opponent and great returner so you need to play well against him otherwise he ends up taking advantage of your shots,” said Hurkacz, who has six titles already including winning the Miami Masters in 2021.

Hurkacz, who went into the semifinals with the highest number of aces in the tournament, said his serve is “a big thing for me”.

“It’s really important to set up the point with the serve and if I am serving well that puts pressure on the opponent and they know they need to serve well,” he said.

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