(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Russia's Andrey Rublev learnt yesterday that tennis is not all about pure power after he was taken the distance by Argentinian ATP journeyman Guido Pella in the semi-finals of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open yesterday.
Whether it's a lesson he would put to good use in his future endeavours would be somewhat evident today when he takes on the skilful Gael Monfils in the title match after the Frenchman's rival and top seed Dominic Thiem of Austria withdrew hours before their semi-final because of high fever.
Rublev, who at 20 has shown all the signs of potential greatness, defeated Pella 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2) in two hours and 26 minutes to say on course for his second ATP title following his victory at the Croatian Open last year.
'I feel happy. I don't even know what to say because I didn't expect this result. I was just focusing to do my best every match and that's it. Now I'm in the final and I'm really happy, said Rublev.
The Russian added that against Monfils he would stick to his natural game and try to dictate terms from the start.
'I mean, we'll see tomorrow. In my case it's everything simple to try to play my game, to try to play the speed of the ball that I'm going to dictate. Because I know that when I play with the speed that they can play, it's really tough for the opponents to play with me. I will try to increase the speed and we'll see tomorrow what's going to happen.
He appeared unperturbed despite the fact he would be meeting Monfils for the first time ever.
'Yeah. I mean, he's a great player. You can see that he was he win many great tournaments. He beat almost all the top players. I think for sure he was top 10. I mean, he's one of the greatest players now in this time. I mean, he moves amazing. He has big shots, amazing serve. We'll see. Because in the end I have nothing to lose tomorrow. We'll see. I will just try to go on court and enjoy the match.
After the first match yesterday failed to materialise yesterday because of Thiem's illness, it appeared that the proceedings on the penultimate day of the tournament would end in dramatically quick time when Rublev raced to win the first set in just 28 minutes after securing his first break in the very second game to go ahead 2-0.
He then helped himself to another break, in the seventh game, which he won at love, before going a set up, winning 11 points under just five shots. But the 20-year-old's game dramatically disintegrated in the second set as the left-handed Pella began to slowly find his composure and confidence.
Until then, Pella, who is yet to win a title despite turning pro 10 years ago, had given no indication whatsoever that he was capable of such craftiness.
But that was exactly what the 28-year-old Argentinian did, surprising not only his young rival but also the spectators many of whom suddenly began cheering for him.
Pella disturbed Rublev's aggressive rhythm by engaging him in longer rallies and eliciting plenty of errors in the process from the Russian, who sprayed the ball all over, double faulted a few times and often appeared agitated with the sudden disappearance of his form.
The Argentinian earned his first break in the fourth game and repeated the feat in the sixth before another break in the 10th game helped take the match into the third set.
Games went with serve in the final set, but Pella's best chance to clinch the issue came in the 10th game when he led 5-4 and held match point at 40-30.
But Rublev saved the situation with an ace only his second yesterday, and then went on to take the match into the tie-breaker.
But the tie-breaker eventually proved one-sided as it suited Rublev's style, and he packed too much punch in his shots to book a spot in today's decider.
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