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HomeSportsRussian Rublev beats Ruusuvuori to win Hong Kong Tennis Open title

Russian Rublev beats Ruusuvuori to win Hong Kong Tennis Open title

Rublev is the first man from his country to win the Hong Kong title, which has been claimed by players of 11 different nationalities since the tournament was first staged in 1973.

The event came out of a 22-year hibernation for 2024, and a sold out Centre Court crowd watched Rublev win his fourth match in as many days for a 15th career crown.

Russian Rublev is the first man from his country to be crowned champion in Hong Kong. Photo: AFP

Ruusuvuori was searching for just a fifth victory over a player ranked in the world’s top-10, and the first since he beat Rublev in a marathon encounter in Cincinnati in August.

The world No 69 saved two break points in the opening game, the second with an emphatic ace, and an awkward, flat volley, put away to hold for 2-1, seemed to signal the Finn had settled in only his second ATP Tour final.

An ill-timed double fault nevertheless handed Rublev another break opportunity at 3-3. A blistering forehand saved Ruusuvuori, but the reprieve was temporary.

Rublev immediately forced another chance and was not going to be denied again, sending an unreturnable backhand deep onto Ruusuvuori’s forehand side.

The Russian had two set points against Ruusuvuori’s serve when 5-3 up, but missed both with shots into the tramlines, his face contorting with anger after the first chance went begging.

Emil Ruusuvuori hits a return during his men’s final against Andrey Rublev at the Hong Kong Tennis Open. Photo: AFP

Well known for his fiery temper, Rublev’s rage boiled over when he overhit a forehand to waste the first set point on his own serve, at 5-4, and his frustration heightened when he followed a brilliant backhand that completely befuddled his opponent with a shot into the net.

A misdirected backhand gave Ruusuvuori his first break point, but Rublev sent down successive service winners, before the 24-year-old went into the net on his opponent’s fifth set point.

The opening eight games of the second set went with serve, although the alarm bells were ringing for Ruusuvuori when he had to recover from 0-30 to move 4-3 in front.

Rublev scented his chance to get the job done at 4-4, and summoned his A-game to break to love. A screaming forehand beat Ruusuvuori to create three break points, but Rublev needed only one, the unseeded player dumping a reply into the net after his opponent landed another big shot on the baseline.

Rublev raced through the final game, winning it to 15 when Ruusuvuori tamely sent a return over the baseline.

Both players begin their Australian Open campaigns next week, with Rublev poised to challenge for a first grand slam title, after falling at the quarter-final stage on nine occasions in the major competitions.

In the doubles final, No 2 seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Mate Pavic sprung a minor surprise, overcoming No 1 pair Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen in straight sets to claim the title.

Belgians Gille and Vliegen have played together since 2013 and reached the final of last year’s French Open. Croatian Pavic and Arevalo of El Salvador are both decorated doubles players in their own rights, but teamed up for the first time this week.

The debut pair recovered from a break down to win the opening set on a tiebreak, then edged a tight second, for a 7-6, 6-4 victory.

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