Andrey Rublev edges Denis Shapovalov to reach Mubadala World Tennis Championship final

Russian world No 5 to face Murray for the title after three-set win over Canadian in the semi-final

Andrey Rublev booked his place in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship final on Friday with a 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Denis Shapovalov.

The Abu Dhabi tournament may be an exhibition but this match was played with great intensity in front of a lively crowd at Zayed Sports City's International Tennis Centre.

Little could separate the two players in the first set as they both held firm on their powerful service games, although Shapovalov needed to ride out a marathon fourth game, where he faced and saved four break points.

Neither player faced a single break point beyond that as the set headed towards its inevitable tie-break and world No 5 Rublev took early charge, racing into a 4-1 lead. Canada's Shapovalov forced his way back into the tie-break at 6-5, but the Russian closed it out on serve in the next point.

Shapovalov, the world No 14, responded in fine style at the start of the second set, breaking at the first opportunity for a 2-0 lead and he maintained his advantage all the way through to level at a set apiece, having saved three break points when serving out the set at 5-3.

The deciding set was even more tightly-contested, with the only break point created in the first game on the Rublev serve. That was until Shapovalov, serving to stay in the match at 4-5, handed a break point opportunity to Rublev and proceeded to double fault to hand the match to his opponent.

"It was super tough because its only my third day here and I’m playing my first match against one of the best players. For the first match I played quite well," said Rublev, who had received a bye to the semi-finals as one of the top two seeds.

"It was tough because of the conditions; I wasn’t returning or serving too well but the rest I was playing quite well. So, I’m really happy with my performance today and I hope the spectators enjoyed it."

Rublev will face three-time major winner Andy Murray for the title on Saturday after the former world o 1 defeated 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the second semi-final.

Shapovalov, meanwhile, will take on Nadal in the third-place playoff.

Updated: December 17th 2021, 6:33 PM