HAMBURG, September 25, 2020
The 32-man field at the Hamburg European Open has been whittled down to four after an exciting quarterfinal Friday at the Rothenbaum Tennis Center.
In front of 2,200 spectators, Andrey Rublev opened Centre-Court action with a 6-2, 7-5 win over No. 4 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain. In the pair’s first meeting since Rublev’s victory in group play at the 2019 Davis Cup Final, the 22-year-old Russian broke his opponent’s serve six times to prevail after one hour and 31 minutes.
“Roberto is one of the most consistent players on tour, it’s really tough to beat him,” Rublev said in an on-court interview. “You need to play at an amazing level and be really fit. He never gives you an easy match. I am really pleased as I played well, even in the first set – in spite of the score – there were long games and I’m happy to get through the second set.”
No. 20 for Ruud
Rublev, who hit 20 of his 30 winners off his forehand wing, improved to a 23-6 match record this season and will next take on Casper Ruud. The Norwegian, who celebrated his maiden triumph on the ATP Tour at the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires earlier this season, advanced to the stage of the final four at last week’s Masters 1000 event in Rome, where he fell to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
Here in Hamburg, the 21-year-old from Oslo continued his good run of form, as he battled past Frenchman Ugo Humbert 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 in one hour and 31 minutes to earn his 20th match win in 2020.
“Rublev is a very good player, a very dangerous player,” said Ruud of his upcoming opponent. Both players met in the second round of the Hamburg European Open 2019. “He made the final here last year, so he is feeling good on this court. I have to be ready for a very tough match.
“He is higher ranked than me. He is a better player than me. I am the underdog, so I will just try to do my best and hopefully try to get that revenge from last year.”
Tsitsipas leads line-up
In the bottom half of the draw, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 7-6(5), 6-2. The World No. 6 from Greece sent down three aces and won 80 per cent of his second-service points to advance in one hour and 36 minutes.
“It was a perfect day, sunny, good people, good atmosphere and good clay,” said Tsitsipas during his on-court interview. “Dusan is a difficult opponent to play on clay, with a lot of spin and variation in his shots. I think I had to do something extra for the victory today. I will keep working hard.”
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The 22-year-old from Athens seems to be having a great time in the port city.
“I feel like German people are very intellectual and they appreciate good quality of tennis. I really enjoy the culture and the mentality of the people, how correct and organized they are in general. I feel loved here. That’s great. I think that’s a big bonus,” said Tsitsipas.
Next challenge: Garin
Up next for the reigning ATP Finals champion will be in-form Cristian Garin, who battled past Alexander Bublik from Kazakhstan by the score of 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the final match of the day. Following two title wins in South America, Garin achieved new career-high ranking each week in the second month of this season, peaking at World No. 8 on 24 February. Here in Hamburg, he is getting back to his best.
“I play really well this week here. For me it is important to play matches again at this level. I am playing much better and I am so happy to be in the semis,” said 24-year-old Garin, the oldest player in the stage of the last four of the ATP 500 event.
“I feel kind of old,” he commented on this fact and a smile came up behind his mask. “A new generation is coming, and I hope to play many more tournaments alongside them.”