World No.7 Andrey Rublev needed only 90 minutes to defeat Grigor Dimitrov 7-5 6-2 and reach the last four at Indian Wells with his 13th consecutive victory.
The Dubai champion benefited from some poor serving by his Bulgarian opponent, who had five double faults and was broken four times after having previously lost his serve only once at this year’s tournament.
Rublev was not at his best and struggled to close out the first set, being broken to love as Dimitrov levelled at 5-5, which led the intense Russian to drop his racket and loudly vent his frustration to the players’ box.
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But he regrouped to break back in the next game and fired his fourth ace to take the first set.
Rublev struggled again near the finish line, letting a match point slip away on Dimitrov’s serve at 5-1 and then facing a break point on his own serve at 5-2.
But he once again righted the ship and sealed the win when Dimitrov sent a service return long on match point.
Rublev said in an on-court interview: “I knew I had to serve well because of the way he plays from the baseline, the way he moves, the way he plays with the forehand.
“It was going to be really tough if I played a bit passive. I had to be aggressive because I knew it would come down to who would be the first one to start to dictate play.”
Rublev will face American Taylor Fritz, who sent Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic packing with a 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-1 win, on Saturday for a spot in the final of the Masters 1000 tournament in the California desert.
Fritz was well positioned to beat Kecmanovic after taking the first set tiebreak and having break point chances in the second set.
But the tide unexpectedly shifted when Fritz was broken in a disastrous service game where he committed three double faults.
Kecmanovic took the second set with an overhead smash in the next game.
In the third set it was Kecmanovic’s serve that went off the boil and Fritz quickly ran out to a 4-0 lead. The Southern Californian ended the affair with his 14th ace.
“I literally don’t really even know what happened,” Fritz said of the only service game he lost. “I hope nobody saw that.”
With the win, world No.20 Fritz booked his ticket to the semi-finals of for the second year in a row.
He has a 2-2 career record against Rublev, including splitting their two hard court meetings.