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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Friday, March 1, 2024


Alexander Bublik held a 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-5 lead when Andrey Rublev was defaulted for screaming at a linesman sending the Kazakh into the Dubai final.

Photo credit: Christopher Pike/Getty

A dramatic Dubai semifinal came to a controversial climax.

Andrey Rublev vented at a linesman and was booted from the match.

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In a stunning turn of events, Rublev was defaulted for an unsportsmanlike conduct code violation right before he was set to serve to try to force a third-set tiebreaker.

Alexander Bublik led 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-5 when the referee informed Rublev he was being defaulted for berating the linesman, allegedly using profanity in Russian.

A stunned Rublev repeatedly denied he spoke Russian during the exchange.

"I was not talking Russian!" Rublev said. "I swear to God. This is a whole mistake. I swear to God."

Trying to lend a helping hand to his buddy, Bublik offered to complete the match.

"I am okay to continue," Bublik said.

"The match is over," the referee replied.

And with that ruling, a tense two hour, 26-minute battle was over sending Bublik into his 11th ATP Final.

The incident erupted after Bublik held for a 6-5 lead in the final set.

A raging Rublev, who felt the linesman missed an out call during the game-ending rally, walked over and screamed at the linesman.

Watching the incident on replay it's unclear exactly what Rublev said, however another linesman, who speaks Russian, reported to chair umpire Miriam Bley, who then called the referee out on court.

The referee told Rublev the second, Russian-speaking linesman reported his language was a code violation. Rublev requested they review the replay of the incident.

However, the referee's ruling ended the match.

Montpellier champion Bublik improved his 2024 record to 13-4 and looked as surprised as fans, some of whom chanted "Andrey! Andrey!" hoping to see this dramatic duel play out to a third-set tiebreaker.

Instead, 2023 Dubai finalist Rublev walked off the court in defeat after holding a 4-2 lead in the decider and standing just a couple of service holds from a finals return.

As a consequence of the default, Rublev forfeits all ranking points he earned this week as well as the $157,755 he earned in prize money for his semifinal result.

The seventh-seeded Bublik will face either top-seeded Daniil Medvedev or Marseille champion Ugo Humbert in tomorrow's final. This victory will vault world No. 23 Bublik into the Top 20 for the first time

In a semifinal between fiery personalities and friends it was Bublik who emotionally erupted first.

Dropping serve to start the final set, Bublik smashed his racquet to the court then engaged in a brief tiff with chair umpire Bley pointing out he expected to start the set with new balls but it wasn't yet time for new balls.

Former finalist Rublev ran through eight of the first nine points of the decider going up 2-0 then earning three break points with a chance to go up 3-0.

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Credit Bublik for haning tough and fending off all three break points for 1-2. Bublik saved seven straight break points as he climbed out of a dire love-40 hole earning a gritty hold for 3-4.

That stirring stand rattled Rublev, who could have been up a double break. Instead, Rublev surrendered serve at 15 and suddenly the set was even at 4-all.

The 26-year-old Rublev, who took the court with a 14-3 record, was bidding to join Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic as the third man to reach three or more Dubai finals in a row, but talked himself out of the semifinal.


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