Rublev Ready For Tough Challenge At Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

Andrey Rublev

DUBAI, March 15, 2021 (DDFT Press Release)

Second seed Andrey Rublev is ready to face a tough challenge as he launches his bid for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title on Tuesday against qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori. The Finn beat Jordan Thompson of Australia 6-3, 7-6(5), claiming victory when a challenge on match point went in his favour.

The World No. 8 has enjoyed an excellent start to the 2021 season, highlighted by his recent triumph in Rotterdam where he overcame former Dubai champion Andy Murray and two-time Dubai runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.

That victory came after he won all four of his matches in Melbourne as Russia beat Italy to lift the ATP Cup, and then he reached a respectable quarter-final at the Australian Open. Last week in Doha he found himself in the rare and bizarre situation of reaching the semi-finals without hitting a ball, with a first round bye and then two walkovers, and although he was then defeated by 2018 Dubai champion Roberto Bautista Agut he was victorious in the doubles with partner Aslan Karatsev.

“I’m really happy that I won the title in Rotterdam,” Rublev said at the Aviation Club. “I always was enjoying the tournament and I always was thinking that this tournament is really tough to win. I was hoping maybe one day I will have chance to do well there and then now I win it. I mean, it’s really great feelings and now I’m here.”

He found it tough to win there, and he is hoping that he can respond to the same challenge in Dubai. It is his third visit to the Emirates, after he failed to qualify in 2017 and then last year fell in the quarter-finals to Dan Evans.

“First of all I’m happy to be back,” he said. “(But) here for me is always tough conditions. It’s tough to play here because the ball flies much more and with my style of game it’s not easy to play. I cannot control this so we’ll see what is going to happen.

“It’s going to be a great challenge for me and we’ll see. I have nothing to lose here. Like I said, was always tough to play my style of the game so I’m gonna do my best. I want to challenge myself if I can find other ways to win the matches, to show great level of tennis.”

“Andrey Rublev is clearly a player who is in tremendous form this year, and that follows his victories towards the end of last season when he was successful in winning the title in both St. Petersburg and Vienna,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “Despite his misgivings about how he will manage the conditions here he will certainly provide fierce competition for whoever he faces as he attempts to become the first Russian to win the title.”

Gasquet earns 550th match win

Richard Gasquet, who was forced to miss the Australian Open with a back injury and also pulled out of his second round match last week in Doha, claimed the 550th win of his career by overcoming Marco Cecchinato 6-4 6-2. He is now sixth on the list of most career wins among active players, behind Roger Federer with 1243, Rafael Nadal with 1008, Novak Djokovic with 943, Andy Murray with 677 and Fernando Verdasco with 552.

“Richard Gasquet has enjoyed a remarkable career,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “He made his debut on the ATP tour in April 2002 at the age of 15 at the Tennis Masters Series tournament in Monte Carlo, where he received a wildcard into qualifying and became the youngest player ever to qualify for a Tennis Masters Series event. He remains the youngest match winner in ATP Tour history dating back to 1990.”

Lloyd Harris from South Africa earned a second round clash with top seed Dominic Thiem by defeating fellow qualifier Christopher O’Connell of Australia 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-1, and Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff beat qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin from Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-2 to set up a meeting with third seeded Canadian Denis Shapovalov. Frenchman Jeremy Chardy is the first player into the third round after he upset ninth seed Alex de Minaur from Australia 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.