Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev has reiterated his call for peace in the war in Ukraine after reaching the Dubai Tennis Championship final.
The defending champion, 25, beat Alexander Zverev 6-3 7-6 (11-9) and will face compatriot Daniil Medvedev – who beat Novak Djokovic – on Saturday.
En route to last year’s title, Rublev wrote “no war please” on a camera lens days after Russia invaded Ukraine.
“You cannot act like nothing is happening,” he said on Friday.
“It’s horrible. It’s crazy that so many just normal citizens are suffering, dying. The only thing I hope is that soon there will be peace in every country.”
After beating Zverev for the first time in six meetings, the sixth-ranked Rublev paid tribute to the late Soviet rock star Viktor Tsoi by again signing the camera lens, this time with the message: “Tsoi is alive.”
“He was one artist from a past generation that had huge volume I think on USSR because his voice was really powerful,” added Rublev.
“That was not an easy time. The lyrics that he was writing gave a lot of hope to the people at that time. I just wrote it because I feel that now, at this time, is happening similar things.”
Medvedev brought Djokovic’s perfect start to 2023 to an end with a straight-set victory over the world number one.
Djokovic had reached the semi-final on a 20-match winning run but went down 6-4 6-4 as Medvedev set up an all-Russian final.
Russian and Belarusian players were banned from competing at Wimbledon last year and are waiting to learn if they can take part in this year’s tournament.