Still On Fire, Andrey Rublev Is Peaking At The Right Time

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 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.

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