WASHINGTON, October 27, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
Andrey Rublev put on a clinical performance during his one-hour, 6-3, 6-2, win over No. 104 Norbert Gombos of Slovakia Monday evening to move comfortably into the second round of the ATP 500 Erste Bank Open in Vienna.
The World No. 8, who is honing in on one of two final berths available in next month’s Nitto ATP Finals in London, is peaking at the right time. A week ago, Rublev won the ATP 500 St. Petersburg Open in Russia. Now, after a week off tour where he celebrated his 23rd birthday, he’s back and ready to make another good run in the Austrian capital city whose artistic and intellectual legacy has been shaped by Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud over the centuries.
Against Gombos, Rublev fired 11 service aces and won 79 percent of his service points during his first-round match inside Erste Bank Wiener Stadthalle, which is allowing a limited number of spectators to attend this week. He did not face any break points on his serve while breaking Gombos’ serve three times in four opportunities. He will await the winner between 43rd-ranked wild card Jannik Sinner from Italy and No. 27 Casper Ruud of Norway, who play Wednesday.
After Monday evening’s match, Rublev said he has no expectations at all in Vienna this week. “Just to give my best in every match and we will see what happens,” he said, quoted by the ATP Tour website. “I did already a really great season, so [there is] nothing to lose.”
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) October 26, 2020
Tennis Channel analyst Paul Annacone gave high praise for Rublev, commenting on the Russian for a mostly-North American TV audience. “Andrey Rublev has been on fire,” he said Monday following Rublev’s 35th victory in 42 matches during the pandemic-interrupted season.
“He started the year off incredibly well and picked up just where he left off after the delay. He punished every short ball against Gombos. … All things were good for Rublev and he has so much confidence. It’s a pleasure to watch him play.”
Rublev, who is seeking his third straight ATP 500 title after winning finals at Hamburg and St. Petersburg, has a direct entry in next week’s Rolex Paris Masters with an eye toward qualifying for the year-end Nitto ATP Finals. He began this week in eighth place with 3,429 points in the FedEx ATP Rankings, ahead of Diego Schwartzman (3,285 points) and Matteo Berrettini (3,075). If the Nitto ATP Finals were to start today, Rublev would move up to be the 7th qualifier (since No. 4 Roger Federer is injured).
The Russian No. 2 began the season with back-to-back ATP 250 titles at Doha and Adelaide in January. He’s tied with Novak Djokovic for most titles (4) won this season. Before the tour hiatus, Rublev’s win-loss record was 15-3. Since the return, he’s 20-4.
A well-deserved pat on the back
Austrian Jurij Rodionov scored the biggest tour-level win of his brief ATP Tour career – a 6-4, 7-5 triumph over World No. 12 Denis Shapovalov of Canada – and did it in his home country Monday evening. Rodionov won 72 percent of his service points and took advantage of 10 double faults by Shapovalov.
🚨 UPSET ALERT 🚨
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) October 26, 2020
Dominic Thiem’s Tennis Living Room
World No. 3 Dominic Thiem is at home in Austria this week. He shares his latest blog post with his worldwide fans.
new blog is online!https://t.co/YFLthGzrLm
— Dominic Thiem (@ThiemDomi) October 26, 2020
Rafa’s got golf game
If Rafael Nadal ever decides to retire from tennis, he just might have a promising future playing golf, where he plays right-handed.
Rafael Nadal finishes the Balearic Golf Championships tied for the 6th place in 60 players. Finished 10 shots away from the winner (Sebastian Garcia).
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) October 26, 2020
Serving up hope with Vania King
Former American Top 10 doubles player Vania King, now retired, is doing important work with her foundation in Africa.
I’m in Uganda with @serving_up_hope – our community partner APAR Foundation (@ShantaPatel10) distributes food weekly and also provides medical, clothing, and educational assistance to the community 💞🌍 pic.twitter.com/fqZBpEUfR3
— Vania King (@queen_v21) October 25, 2020
Aryna the magician
Who knew this about Aryna Sabalenka?
— Jimmie48 Photography (@JJlovesTennis) October 25, 2020
Now it can be told
It’s not often that a player wins both a singles and doubles title in the same tournament. On Sunday, for the first time in 2020, Aryna Sabalenka did just that in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Aryna Sabalenka takes home the singles and doubles titles @JTBankaOpen, pairing w/ Elise Mertens to defeat Dabrowski/Stefani 61 63.
Sabalenka is the 1st to sweep since Nao Hibino at 2019 Hiroshima, and 1st to do so at a Premier or higher since Serena at 2016 Wimbledon. pic.twitter.com/9PK0cgZcTG
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) October 25, 2020
What they’re podcasting
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen sits down with J&T Banka Ostrava Open singles and doubles champion Aryna Sabalenka following her title victories Sunday.
Champions Corner: Sabalenka Sweeps in Ostrava https://t.co/hlpMetwiZS
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) October 26, 2020
What they’re sharing on social media
Borna Coric in Vienna / Monday, Monday so good to me
Monday, Monday so good to me😎 https://t.co/kg3tb7M8uf
— borna coric (@borna_coric) October 26, 2020
Ons Jabeur / Thanks her team for always supporting her
يعطيكم الصحة الناس الكل الي شجعتوني العام هذا، رغم الظروف الصعيبة الي تعدينا بيها، موسم 2020 الحمد لله كان ايجابي، احسن ترتيب ليا في مسيرتي الرياضية و انشاء الله نوعدكم المزيد من التألق.
Thank you my team for always supporting me❤️ pic.twitter.com/x3Z6Yq7XKB
— Ons Jabeur (@Ons_Jabeur) October 25, 2020
Stan Wawrinka / Having fun playing doubles with Grigor Dimitrov