Tennis Olympic champion Alexander Zverev missed his first final at an ATP tournament in almost ten months. In the semifinals in Dubai, the man from Hamburg had to admit defeat to defending champion Andrei Rubljov 3:6, 6:7 (9:11).
The Russian, who is a friend of Zverev, will meet the winner of the second semi-final between compatriot Daniil Medvedev and world number one Novak Djokovic from Serbia in the final. For Zverev, the first semi-final on the tour since the French Open in Paris, where he sustained a serious foot injury last June, was still a success. For the first time since his return he was able to win three matches in a row, the Hamburger presented himself playfully improved.
"It shows that hard work pays off," the German number 1 said after beating Italy's Lorenzo Sonego in the quarterfinals.
problems with the serve
In the duel against buddy Rubljow, however, it became apparent that Zverev is still a bit away from the absolute top. The 19-time ATP tournament winner had big problems with his second serve in the first set, which Rublev knew how to exploit with his strong return game. Zverev's backhand wasn't as precise as usual either. The German made the second sentence much more balanced. In the gripping tie-break, however, Rublev had the better end for himself and converted his 6th match point after almost two hours of play.
"It was a super intense tie-break," said world number six Rublev afterwards. Zverev is "like a big brother" for him, against whom he had always lost in five duels before.
Zverev was last in a final in May 2022 at the clay court tournament in Madrid. At that time he had lost in straight sets to young Spanish star Carlos Alcaraz.