Rublev Reaping Rewards Of Hard Work
The #NextGen star competes at this week's ATP Challenger Tour event in Cortina
#NextGen star Andrey Rublev has enjoyed breakout results in 2016, but the Russian teenager hopes it’s only a sign of what’s to come.
The 18-year-old Russian is competing in this week’s scenic $50,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Cortina, Italy. On Wednesday, he weathered 16 aces to prevail in a tight two-set match over qualifier Viktor Galovic of Croatia and move into the second round, 7-6(4), 7-6(7).
Prevailing in the majority of the long rallies is a testament to the work that Rublev has put in on the practice court and in the gym. The rigourous program he embarked on during the off-season has helped take his game to the next level as he continues a push towards the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.
“I focused on my fitness and trying to get stronger, faster, and prepared for lengthy matches played at a higher speed,” said Rublev. "I was working at IMG Academy in Bradenton [Florida] and playing with top-level people. Being there gives you a chance to work on some technical details and their work attitude is a great example for me.”
The hard work paid off when Rublev came through qualifying to win his first ATP Challenger Tour title this February in Quimper, France. He became the third teenager to win an ATP World Tour title in 2016, joining Taylor Fritz (Happy Valley) and Blake Mott (Launceston).
“Winning a Challenger for me was the next step in my career, a new stage,” said Rublev. "Winning always gives you a lot of confidence. It shows that you are moving in the right direction and all your work is not in vain.”
Even though Rublev is still relatively new to life as a pro, he’s already racking up the miles. The teenager is competing in his 25th tournament of the year in Cortina.
But while he’s played throughout the world, it’s his time at the ATP Challenger Tour event this June in his hometown of Moscow that ranks among his favourite memories of the year. He’s hopeful to get the chance to play in front of a home crowd later this year at the VTB Kremlin Cup.
“It’s always a special feeling to play in front of my family, my relatives and people I like so much. I’m trying to do my best for them to be proud of me,” said Rublev. "The people who organise the Challenger in Moscow are great as well. They really want to do everything possible for us to feel at ease and be able to show our best tennis. They show a lot of enthusiasm, hard work and creativity.”