“Rublo” got the better of “The G-Unit”, surviving a bruising first set to pull away in the second and set up a final against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, the No 16 seed. “Always, when I was a junior, I liked the style of the game that he had,” Rublev said of Dimitrov. “I liked a lot his forehand.”
Just as they did in Frankfurt, the two men went toe to toe with some outrageous hitting, thundering groundstrokes into the corners and forcing each other to come up with some incredible defence to stay in rallies.
Dimitrov had 0-40 on the Rublev serve at 3-2 in the first set but couldn’t take advantage and it was the Russian who struck first, breaking for 6-5.
But Dimitrov put Rublev into some uncomfortable positions with his backhand slice and it created havoc as the Russian’s forehand broke down, Dimitrov breaking back to force a tiebreak.
At one stage, Rublev turned to his coach and said: “I don’t know what to do,” but he came through the tiebreak 9-7, saving one set point with an ace.
Dimitrov looked exhausted after a 77-minute first set but somehow he broke serve in the opening game and looked in charge at 2-1, 40-15.
But Rublev then lifted his game a few levels to break back and as Dimitrov visibly tired, he took full advantage to reach his fourth Masters 1000 final and maintain the momentum he began in Frankfurt.