Gijon Open: Rublev defeats Thiem to reach final

Playing an ultra-aggressive brand of tennis, Rublev firmed up his hold on the sixth position in the ATP Live Race to Turin, as he looks to qualify for the ATP Finals for the third consecutive year.
Andrey Rublev
Andrey RublevIANS

GIJON (SPAIN): Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev extended his winning streak against Dominic Thiem to four matches on Saturday after defeating the Austrian 6-4, 6-4 to reach the Gijon Open final, here.

Playing an ultra-aggressive brand of tennis, Rublev firmed up his hold on the sixth position in the ATP Live Race to Turin, as he looks to qualify for the ATP Finals for the third consecutive year.

Rublev, who has now won eight straight sets against the 2020 U.S Open champion, battled his inner demons after being broken when attempting to serve out the first set.

The 24-year-old, who has spoken candidly about difficulties in controlling his on-court frustrations, exploded in rage after dropping serve but regained composure to break in the next game to close out the set.

"When I was winning 4-1 with a breakpoint for 5-1 it looked like the match was going my way and then I was at 5-4 with him serving. That's not easy to accept, but I was lucky I played a really good game and Dominic helped me out a little bit," Rublev said.

"Then I felt more confident and I was able to win in two sets, which was the most important thing. This week I have been playing really well and I'll try to show my best tennis of the week tomorrow," he added.

The former junior World No.1 attacked Thiem's first and second serves to seize momentum early in points and also broke Theim in the final game of the match to seal the victory.

He won 33 percent of first-serve return points and 53 percent of second-serve return points and also looked comfortable when moving forward to net to pressure his opponent.

Rublev is chasing his fourth title of the year, having already triumphed in Belgrade, Dubai and Marseille.

In Sunday's final, he will play the winner of American Sebastian Korda and Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech, who saved nine match points to deny Pablo Carreno Busta 18-16 in a third-set tie-break on Friday.

Thiem, who would have returned to the Top 100 had he beaten Rublev, continues to lay the foundation for a successful 2023 season after a spotty start to 2022, when he lost his first six tour-level matches.

This week in Gijon, the former World No.3 has hit his signature one-handed backhand with authority, showing no signs of lingering problems with his right wrist following a tear in June 2021 that forced him to miss the second half of the 2021 season.

He has played 28 tour-level matches this season for a 14-14 record and is No. 132 in the ATP Live Rankings.

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