Rublev had won 23 consecutive matches at this level, second only to Roger Federer (28), but Karatsev finally ended the Russian’s remarkable run to progress to his first ATP singles final.
Karatsev, who incredibly went from qualifying to the semi-finals of the Australian Open this year, defeated his compatriot 6-2 4-6 6-4.
He became the first Wild Card to reach the final since Thomas Muster in 1997, doing so by hitting 41 winners and forcing 16 break points – of which he won four – during two hours and 12 minutes on court.
“It was a really tight match [against a] tough opponent,” Karatsev said in his on-court interview.
“It was an unbelievable performance [from Andrey]. He didn’t lose a match at an ATP 500 in [one year]. Everything was decided in one or two points, I feel happy.”
@AsKaratsev is into his first ATP Tour singles final!
He ends Andrey Rublev’s ATP 500 winning streak at 23 matches with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory in Dubai. pic.twitter.com/3cw8XYqiX8
— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 19, 2021
The championship match will be between two first-time Dubai finalists after Lloyd Harris stunned Denis Shapovalov in the other semi-final.
World number 81 Harris, who overcame top seed Dominic Thiem, 14th seed Filip Krajinovic and former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori to reach the last four, came from a set and 4-2 down to defeat world number 12 Shapovalov.
He prevailed 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 7-6 (8-6) to reach a maiden ATP 500 final and become the first qualifier to reach the showpiece in Dubai.
“I don’t have many words right now. I am super happy with that win,” Harris said on court afterwards.
“Being a set and 2-4 down is mentally and physically a little bit troublesome for me, but I found my best tennis from there. I am just extremely happy with the result right now.”
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