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  • French fifth seed Humbert's dream Dubai debut continues as he stuns defending champion Daniil Medvedev with straight sets semifinal victory 
  • Humbert, who is back at a career high of 18 in the PIF ATP rankings, has never lost in five finals on the ATP Tour
  • Dramatic semifinal scenes at Dubai Tennis Stadium as No2 seed Andrey Rublev defaulted for ‘unsportsmanlike conduct' with final set poised for thrilling finale

Dubai, UAE – March 1, 2024: The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships will crown a new champion in Saturday's final after a dramatic semifinal Friday at Dubai Tennis Stadium, with French No5 seed Ugo Humbert and No7 seed Alexander Bublik set to face off for the famous trophy.

Humbert has looked relaxed during his debut in Dubai this week having seen off a resurgent Gael Monfils, former Dubai champion Andy Murray and World No8 Hubert Hurkacz on his way to the semifinal.

And he showed no signs of nerves in facing defending champion Medvedev, a winner of 20 ATP titles, to book his place in the final of the ATP 500 event. The pair traded service games until game 12 when Humbert, who has won five ATP Tour titles, including one this year already in Marseille, broke the Medvedev serve to take the set 7-5.

Humbert took on the Medvedev serve in the second set and it paid off as he broke his opponent in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. The defending champion broke back immediately and squared matters at 2-2 as he looked to turn the tide.

However, Humbert didn't falter and kept taking the game to his more experienced opponent, forcing another break in game eight. He followed that by holding his nerve and serve to take the second 6-3 and secure his passage into the final on his debut in Dubai.

The French No1 will head into Saturday's showdown - and a first-ever meeting with Bublik - full of confidence, backed by a flawless statistic in finals. The 25-year-old has featured in five finals on the ATP Tour to date and has won them all.

“I played the perfect match today. It's never easy to play against Daniil but I was ready to play some rallies and it paid off,” said Humbert.

“I have a lot of confidence having won a title already this year and I've tried to bring that on court with me and I played great today. I'm super happy to be in the final. It will be really interesting to play [against Bublik]. It is a good statistic [to be unbeaten in finals] and I will try to believe and add to that here.”

Humbert's fine victory followed dramatic scenes earlier on Centre Court, during which Rublev was announced as “defaulted” by chair umpire Miriam Bley with his semifinal with Bublik intriguingly poised at one set all (7-6, 6-7, 5-6).

The ruling came after Rublev, the 2022 champion here and 2023 beaten finalist was involved in an exchange with a line judge, with the ATP confirming he was disqualified for verbal abuse.

After battling to hold his serve in the opening game, Bublik broke his opponent in the next and raced into a 3-0 lead. However, Rublev used all his experience to take out the next three games to square the match, with the remainder of the set going with serve to take the players into a tiebreak. Rublev showed poise and calmness to clinch the breaker 7-4 to take the set.

Set two started as the first did, with Kazakh Bublik attacking the Rublev serve to gain an early break. The next six games went with serve but Rublev, a winner of 15 ATP titles, turned up the heat in game eight to break back and held serve in the next. It was then Bublik's turn to dig deep, and he played the shot of the day with a behind the back half-volley on route to forcing a second set tiebreak.

A double fault from the Bublik early in the breaker handed the initiative to Rublev, but he returned the favour with an unforced error into the net when leading 5-3. Bublik accepted the gift with glee and closed out the next three points to force a deciding set.

The tense encounter continued into the third and final set. This time it was Rublev who raced into an early lead with a break only to hand back the initiative with Bublik levelling at 4-4, before the dramatic scenes unfolded in the end change after game 11.

The 2024 doubles final will see No2 seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek face Tallon Griekspoor and Jan-Lennard Struff. Croatia's Dodig and American partner Krajicek ended the dreams of qualifiers Yuki Bhambri and Robin Hasse with a 6-3, 7-6 victory in Friday's first match on Centre Court.

Meanwhile, Griekspoor and Struff booked their place in the final with a 7-6, 7-5 win over Ariel Behar and Adam Pavlasek.

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.




Posted by : GoDubai Editorial Team
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Posted on : Saturday, March 2, 2024  
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