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Shanghai Showdown - The Final

Shanghai Showdown - The Final
October 14, 2023

A new champion will be crowned at the Rolex Shanghai Masters on Sunday, with either Andrey Rublev or Hubert Hurkacz to become the sixth name engraved on the spectacular trophy. 

And as a first-time winner is feted at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament, a fresh chapter will also be written into the narrative of the new champion's career. 

A 15th ATP title for Rublev would reassert his status as a big-stage force on the ATP Tour. The 25-year-old Russian is vying for a second ATP Masters 1000 title after breaking through in Monte Carlo earlier this year. 

Should the quietly determined Hurkacz claim a seventh singles title, a top-10 return - and perhaps even qualification for the prestigious season-ending ATP Finals - will also be in sight. 

As the highest seed remaining, and the only man yet to drop a set in Shanghai, Rublev has numbers firmly on side. The No.5 seed has recorded victories over Quentin Halys, Adrian Mannarino, Tommy Pau, Ugo Humbert and Grigor Dimitrov to advance at the tournament. 

He appreciates the tremendous challenge he'll face against in a fifth match against a steely Hurkacz. 

The No.16 seed in Shanghai, Hurkacz survived three-set tests against Zhang Zhizhen and Fabian Marozsan but produced his best tennis in the semifinal, eliminating Sebastian Korda in straight sets. 

Hurkacz has proven his ability to save his best for last in tournaments - his record in ATP finals stands at six wins against one loss. 

Most worrying for Rublev is the damage that the 26-year-old can inflict with his serve. The 77 total aces he's fired in Shanghai are a tournament high.   

"It's just really important to be able to set up the point with the serve," said Hurkacz of his powerful stroke. 

"And then, obviously if I'm serving well, that puts a lot of pressure on the opponent, they know they got to serve well, and just play well off the ground. So, I think, yeah, it's a big thing for me."

Rublev notes that it's not the only weapon he will face as Hurkacz rises in confidence. 

"Hubi is so tough player. He's really tough to play against. He has good strokes from baseline. He has good feeling. He moves well, really well, especially for his height," he commented.  

"He really has (a) good defence game. The serve, one of the best serves on tour, that is making him really, really tough player that you need to be all the time super focused."

Hurkacz is equally wary of his talented opponent. 

"Andrey, obviously, hits every single ball 200 kilometres per hour, and he just goes after the shots, and, yeah, just brings so much energy on the court. He's a great competitor," he said. 

Rublev and Hurkacz have faced off four times on tour, with their head-to-head record a neat two wins apiece. 

While Hurkacz won their first two matches, Rublev holds some winning momentum after claiming wins at Dubai and Indian Wells in 2022. 
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