Andrey Rublev put in a heroic performance, rallying back from 0-3 in the decider, to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(5), 6-7(7), 6-4 in a three-hour midnight battle and reach his second final in as many weeks.
Rublev enters the final against South African qualifier Lloyd Harris carrying an 11-match winning streak and looking to win a second title of the year, having lifted the trophy in Doha last Saturday.
The 22-year-old Russian is the first player since 2004 to reach finals in the opening two weeks of the season.
“These matches are amazing because after these matches you understand why you are working, what for you’re working, why you need to improve, why you need to break your ass on the practices even when you cannot or when you feel tired to enjoy these moments,” said Rublev.
“I mean, these moments are special that you’re not gonna feel in basic life, normal life without tennis.”
— Adelaide International (@AdelaideTennis) January 17, 2020
The first two sets saw both players combine to save 16/16 break points (eight each), with Rublev taking the opening set tiebreak, and Auger-Aliassime taking the second. The 19-year-old saved two match points to force a decider and got the first break of the match in game two of the final set on his way to a 3-0 lead, but Rublev struck back and drew level for 3-all.
The third-seeded Russian saved break point to hold in the eighth game and broke Auger-Aliassime’s serve to inch ahead 5-4 and put himself in the position to serve for the victory.
He secured a memorable victory on a shanked overhead from Auger-Aliassime, who is now 0-2 head-to-head against Rublev.
“When we start to play after the first game, I say, ‘Wow, what is this?’ Basically today is not my day, and I accept that I’m gonna lose today,” said Rublev.
“Then I don’t know. I said, ‘Okay, he’s playing so good. I don’t know, the rhythm he gave me in the beginning was unbelievable’. I say, ‘Okay, he have more than all the chances to destroy me today, so I accept this. Let’s fight. Let’s try my best, and we’ll see what’s gonna happen’.”
Auger-Aliassime admitted he felt disappointed but hopes to use this as a learning experience.
“Disappointed, for sure. There were so many occasions. Obviously we all saw the same match. It’s tough to swallow, but I think we have to see the big picture,” said the Canadian teen.
“It’s a good level of tennis. It’s a good match, good battle. He deserved it as much as I did. There can only be one winner. That’s the way it is. I’m going to keep giving myself occasions to play matches like this and to go deep in tournaments, and hopefully one day it will go my way.”