MWTC Day 1: Rublev and Tsitsipas advance to face Alcaraz and Ruud in semi-finals

Greek world No 4 wins opening match in Abu Dhabi 6-1, 6-4 and will next take on the Norwegian world No 3

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Andrey Rublev will continue his Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) title defence with a semi-final showdown against world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz after edging past Borna Coric on Friday.

The Russian world No 8, who beat Andy Murray in last year's final, defeated his 26th-ranked Croatian opponent 7-6, 6-4 in a tightly-contested match which saw just one break of serve.

In fact, there was only one break point opportunity for the entire of the first set, which Rublev faced and dealt with in the opening game. With both players serving well, a tiebreak long felt inevitable and it was Coric who blinked first, dropping a point on serve to hand Rublev a 4-3 lead and again when facing set point.

The second set continued in much the same vein, with neither player giving an inch on serve. That was until the ninth game, and again it was Coric who wilted, handing Rublev two break points, with the Russian converting the second.

Rublev maintained his exemplary serving performance and claimed the victory with an appropriate ace down the middle.

Tsitsipas eases past Norrie

Stefanos Tsitsipas will face Casper Ruud in the semi-finals of MWTC after defeating Cameron Norrie in straight sets in the tournament's first match on Friday.

There was an element of revenge to Tsitispas' 6-1, 6-4 victory in Abu Dhabi as the Greek world No 4 levelled his Middle East exhibition rivalry with Norrie after the British No 1 won their encounter at the Diriyah Cup in Saudi Arabia last week.

The first set was dominated by Tsitsipas, who earned his first break following a marathon second game and he continued to dictate the pace and play the more aggressive tennis from then on.

The 24-year-old Greek, competing at MWTC for the second time having reached the 2019 final, earned his second break with the point of the set, finishing off a long and entertaining rally with a controlled backhand passing shot with Norrie at the net to claim a 5-1 lead, before a love service hold closed out the opener.

The second set was much more competitive, with both players holding serve for the first eight games, until Tsitsipas struck with the only break in the ninth game. All that was left was for Tsitsipas to close out the match, which he did to love when Norrie sent a return long.

Tsitsipas will next face Ruud on Saturday, with the Norwegian world No 3 receiving a bye into the semi-finals as one of the tournament's top two seeds.

Friday will then conclude with the one-off women's match between Tunisian world No 2 Ons Jabeur and 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

Updated: December 16, 2022, 3:55 PM