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Daniil Medvedev defeated Andrey Rublev (6/2 6/2) in the Dubai Open final on March 5, 2023.

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The win of the former world number one ends a third unreal week. Since his loss in the fourth round of the Australian Open (6/7 3/6 6/7) against Sebastian Korda, Daniil Medvedev hasn’t lost a match. In Rotterdam, Doha and then Dubai, he let nothing but crumbs for his opponents.

Winner of the Dubai Open in 2022, Andrey Rublev didn’t manage to defend his title this year. Despite a quick loss in the final, he played an impactful tennis all week. After saving five match points against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the fourth round, he didn’t lose a set. Nevertheless, Daniil Medvedev was out of his reach this Saturday.

A flash set

Andrey Rublev started the match with a serve-and-volley that surprised his opponent. Lacking first serves, he was already under pressure. His second serves didn’t bother Daniil Medvedev when returning. After a 20-strike rally, the latter got two break points. The first one was saved by Andrey Rublev at the net. The second one was converted with an amazing passing shot. After seven minutes of play, Daniil Medvedev led 1/0. He confirmed this advantage easily.

Andrey Rublev didn’t fall behind in the score. Each strike was full of aggressiveness. Near his baseline, he multiplied forehand accelerations: 2/1. The winner of the 2021 US Open covered every inch of the court. He forced his opponent to play with the lines: 3/1. Lacking depth and caught off guard with his second stroke, Andrey Rublev had to save two break points – which he managed to do with a series of excellent first serves: 3/2. Daniil Medvedev dominated the rallies; he won his serve easily. His opponent was under constant pressure. The seventh game of the encounter was chaotic. It started with two points lost at the net by Andrey Rublev. He bravely continued to play forward during the following rallies. An astonishing return form Daniil Medvedev gave him a double break: 5/2. He ended this set by a love game.

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During this encounter, the game patterns of the two finalists were crystal clear. Andrey Rublev played a constructed forward tennis every chance he got. These rises to the net, unusual for the Russian player were interesting even though they lacked efficiency. Despite his devastating forehand, Daniil Medvedev broke him in the rallies. The latter committed a ridiculous number of unforced errors while placing the ball wherever he wanted on the court. Thanks to his amazing defensives abilities and his powerful first serves, he won the set in 36 minutes.

Andrey Rublev fought back before giving in  

Andrey Rublev started with a serve-and-volley once again. This time, the ball ended up in the net. While he was under pressure during his game of serve, Daniil Medvedev made three unforced errors in a row. Andrey Rublev led the second set: 1/0. His opponent pulled himself together with a love game : 1/1. The younger of the two Russians was forced to play defense. Far behind his baseline, he multiplied sliced backhands. Once again under pressure, he won his game of serve at the net. Daniil Medvedev was flawless. His serve quality only got better and better: 2/2. Andrey Rublev’s third game of serve was a rough battle. He resisted until he got deceived by an amazing counterpunch from Daniil Medvedev. The break was done; and confirmed by a love game: 4/2.

The reigning champion seemed to have lost all hope of victory. He ran after the perfect strokes of his opponent. Even his forehand accelerations, that were foolproof during the first set, failed him. His too many unforced errors costed him a double break: 5/2. Daniil Medvedev served for the tournament. The second match point was the right one.

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During the second set, both players followed opposite paths. Andrey Rublev’s level of play was gradually collapsing while Daniil Medvedev’s was only improving. Confident, the latter used all his assets: an amazing court coverage, dazzling serves, a great consistency and an impressive ability to anticipate. As for Andrey Rublev, he exploded at the end of the match. Frustrated, he let go the rises to the net and made a string of forehands in the net. During the entire match, that lasted 1h08, he never saw victory.

An 18th title to his name makes Daniil Medvedev start of the 2023 season even better than it already was. The matches pass by and his confidence grows. He will try to extend his 14 wins streak at Indian Wells, in California.

Marnie Abbou

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