Emotional Rublev wins title in Dubai after plea for peace
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An emotional Andrey Rublev said he will sleep for two days after securing his third trophy in seven days by ending the dream run of Czech qualifier Jiri Vesely with a 6-3, 6-4 victory in the Dubai final on Saturday.
The second-seeded Russian won the singles and doubles titles in Marseille last Sunday before flying to the Emirates and clawing his way to a 10th career singles crown, and a fifth at the ATP 500 level.
"For sure for the next two days I will sleep, I won't leave my bed," said Rublev, whose plea for peace in Ukraine after his win the previous night went viral across news stations worldwide.
"Finally I can rest for maybe one week now. I feel super happy, even though maybe I'm tired.
"I think I was lucky today that Jiri also was super tired. He had really tough matches since qualies, three sets, he beat top players starting from the first round, so I was super lucky that he couldn't perform the way he can.
"I was lucky today and that's why I'm happy to be the champion, I didn't expect this. It's an amazing feeling."
The world number seven has been running on fumes all week and had to rally back from a set down in three of his five matches.
World number 123 Vesely is the lowest-ranked finalist in the Dubai tournament's 30-year history.
The 28-year-old left-hander made it through the qualifying rounds before knocking out ex-US Open champion Marin Cilic, eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, world number one Novak Djokovic, and sixth seed Denis Shapovalov en route to the biggest final of his career.
His performance against Rublev on Saturday however was far from what he was able to showcase earlier in the week, as he double-faulted eight times and struggled to win points on his second serve.
Rublev fired 30 winners, including 13 aces on his way to an 80-minute triumph.
Some clever returning from Rublev helped him carve a 4-1 lead and that sole break was all he needed to scoop the opening set in 29 minutes.
The 24-year-old started the second set with a break and looked in control until the sixth game where Vesely managed to stall his momentum.
A bad call from chair umpire Carlos Bernardes, who missed an obvious let on a Rublev serve, did not go down well with the Russian, who went on a rant before receiving a code violation.
Vesely capitalised on his opponent's loss of focus and broke back to level the set at 3-3 but the Czech dropped serve again after an eight-minute seventh game.
Back in the driver's seat, Rublev closed out the victory comfortably, and sank to his knees after match point, realising his marathon February was finally over.
Rublev is now 37-4 at ATP 500 tournaments since the tour resumed in August 2020 following a five-month suspension.