Rublev, A Hallmark Of Consistency, Is Through To Another Masters 1000 Semifinal In Shanghai

Andrey Rublev (photo: ATP Tour video)

SHANGHAI/WASHINGTON, October 13, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

Andrey Rublev has been a hallmark of consistency throughout the ATP Masters 1000 Series this season. In 2023, the World No. 7 from Russia has compiled an impressive 17-6 win-loss record, won one Masters 1000 title (Monte-Carlo), and now has reached his sixth semifinal at this level after ousting 32nd seed Ugo Humbert, 6-2, 6-3, in 91 minutes at the Rolex Shanghai Masters in China Friday evening. Rublev has not dropped any sets this week in Shanghai in his first four matches.

Rublev hit 14 winners and won the final four games of the quarterfinal-round match on the Qi Zhong Tennis Center Stadium Court for his third win in five career meetings against the World No. 34 Humbert. It avenged Rublev’s recent loss to the Frenchman in Beijing and boosted his chances for making the Nitto ATP Final field of eight for the fourth straight year. He is currently in fifth place, 1,160 points ahead of ninth place Taylor Fritz of the United States.

“The match in Beijing, both of us played great tennis and I had chances,” Rublev explained in his on-court interview with ATP media. “I was serving for the match. He was playing really well that match and I tried to analyze what I did wrong that match. I tried to not make the same mistakes today and I did really well. I am happy to win in straight sets. I played a great match and I am happy to win today.”

Next, Rublev will take on No. 18 Grigor Dimitrov in search of his third ATP Tour title of the season. The Bulgarian backed up his upset of World No. 2 and top seed Carlos Alcaraz by downing No. 22 seed Nicolas Jarry of Chile, 7-6 (2), 6-4, in an hour and 39 minutes to reach the Shanghai semifinals for the first time in seven tries.

Dimitrov overcame the big-serving Jarry (14 aces) with an all-court display of agile movement and brilliant shot-making skills for his first win against the 22nd-ranked Chilean in three meetings. The 19th-ranked Dimitrov, who hit 11 aces and struck 19 winners overall, made just three unforced errors. He outpointed Jarry 66-60 while dropping just four points on his first serve to record his 35th triumph and reach his fifth ATP Tour semifinal of the season.

“I think there were many components going the right way today,” Dimitrov said in his on-court interview. “For me, he is one of the best servers right now. I’ve played him a couple of times, and I feel like every time it gets tougher and tougher to return against him. In the most important moments, I was able to be just solid, nothing else.

“I don’t think I did anything crazy in those moments, I just kept on believing in my game, kept going after my shots. You don’t get many opportunities against him, especially in the beginning it’s very difficult because he doesn’t give you any rhythm. … I was trying to apply pressure with the hope that he might make a few mistakes, and he did.”

Granollers and Zeballos remain perfect in Shanghai

Spain’s Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina rolled past Rinky Hijikata of Australia and Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, 6-2, 6-3, in 63 minutes to advance to Sunday’s final.

The seventh-seed Spanish-Argentine team, who are seeking their fifth career Masters 1000 title as a team and first since Cincinnati in 2021, have won all eights sets they’ve played in Shanghai this week.

Granollers and Zeballos will face either fourth seeds Rohan Bopanna of India and Matthew Ebden of Australia or French pair Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul, who meet on Saturday.

Around the Rolex Shanghai Masters

Retired tennis great Roger Federer, twice a champion in Shanghai, was a guest of honor at the Rolex Shanghai Masters Friday evening. Federer was presented with an Icon Athlete Award in a ceremony that also featured WTA legend Li Na and the current Chinese men’s No. 1 player Zhang Zhizhen.

For the numbers

With his victory over Nicolas Jarry on Friday, Grigor Dimitrov had now reached the semifinals at seven of the nine Masters 1000 events.

“Quotable …”

“[Beating Alcaraz] helps confidence-wise, but also it was just another match, if you think about it. I didn’t have much time to overthink it, I just had a little bit of a chat with the team and tried to see what I did pretty good, what worked, what didn’t, and what I could do better in the next round.”

— Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, during his on-court interview, describing the significance of beating World No. 2 and top seed Carlos Alcaraz in the fourth round on Wednesday.