September 25, 2023

Imperious Safiullin ousts second seed Musetti to reach first career ATP Tour final

World No. 10 Alexander Zverev continued his winning ways here at the Chengdu Open, defeating third seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) in one hour and 52 minutes to reach his second final of the season, marking his 32nd Tour-level career final.

Zverev started the first set strongly, breaking his world No. 32 Bulgarian opponent at third time of asking in the very first game, and again in the final game of the set to secure the first set.

The second set was a more tightly contested affair with neither player relinquishing their serve, but once Zverev got the first mini-break in the sixth point of the tie-break to take a 4-2 lead, he was able to close out the match with relative ease.

“Yeah, it’s for sure the best match I’ve played, even though I think yesterday’s match was very high level. I’m happy to be in the finals, that’s what I came here for. Hopefully it's going to be another high-level match tomorrow,” said the former world No.3.

The German will meet Roman Safiullin for the second time on tour in tomorrow’s final, having last met and defeated the current world No. 55 in the second round of the 2019 French Open. 

“He plays extremely fast, hits the ball very hard. This week obviously he is playing extremely well. When he’s playing like that, he’s one of the most dangerous players,” commented the 26-year-old, who has moved up one spot to number seven on the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin rankings following his run in Chengdu.

In the day’s first semifinal, Safiullin showcased superb form to overcome second seed Lorenzo Musetti 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 29 minutes and move into the first ATP Tour-level final of his career.

Safiullin did not face a single break point against his world No. 18 opponent, and converted two of the four opportunities he created, the first coming in the eighth game of the first set and the subsequent in the seventh game of the second.

Safiullin also hit nine aces to Musetti’s one, made 30 winners compared to the Italian’s 20, and only made one unforced error while his opponent racked up six.

“I’m happy that I could serve very good today and managed to survive without any break points. Even in second set when it was 4-3 up, Lorenzo started returning better and I managed to step up a little bit more. I think I played very good tennis today,” said the 26-year-old.

Safiullin is on track to eclipse his previous career high of No. 43, achieved in July following his run into the Wimbledon quarterfinal, after guaranteeing himself 150 points here in Chengdu.

On making his first career final, Safiullin said: “I would say it’s been a very long journey and I’m very happy to do finally do it. I played two semifinals last year and this year I have made it to the final. I have put in a lot of work and it’s taken a lot of time to reach this goal.”

In the doubles, top seeds Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul of France are set to make their second ATP Tour final appearance of the season following a 6-4, 6-4 victory over the American-New Zealander combo of Marcos Giron and Rubin Statham in one hour and 19 minutes.

Joining them in the final are second seeded Portuguese-Brazilian pair Francisco Cabral and Rafael Matos, who received a walkover into the final after Portuguese-France duo Nuno Borges and Arthur Rinderknech withdrew from today semifinal showdown following an injury to Rinderknech’s left wrist.

The two pairs are meeting for the third time this season, with Reboul and Doumbia taking the win in both their previous encounters at the Bordeaux Challenger and the Lyon ATP 250.

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The tournament is owned by IMG and is organised by the Chinese Tennis Association and Chengdu Municipal Government, is co-organised by Chengdu Sports Bureau, Shuangliu District Government and Chengdu Culture Tourism Group, and is promoted by Sichuan Investment International Tennis Centre Development Co., Ltd., CCTV IMG (Beijing) Sports Management Co. Ltd. and WME IMG China Culture Development Co. Ltd.

The Chengdu Open is also very proud to have the support of our distinguished partners, including the ATP Tour’s Premier Partner Emirates, the official ball and stringer Yonex, the official car FAW-Volkswagen, the Sichuan Tennis International Hotel, which is conveniently located adjacent to the courts and provides efficient services to the tournament, the official timer Luminox, the official player hotel Intercontinental Chengdu Global Center, the official coffee provider Wood & Coffee, the official gym equipment Impulse and the official water Su Lao Quan.

The official tournament website has additional information about the tournament.

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