Rublev Downs Felix, Captures Marseille Crown
The Russian, who defeated three Frenchmen in Marseille to reach the championship match at the ATP 250 event, has now captured nine tour-level crowns, improving his record in finals on indoor hard courts to 5-0.
"All the battles I have had with Felix since the first time back in 2018 have had drama,” Rublev said in his on-court interview. “All have had at least one set that went 7-6 and now he is one of the greatest players. Especially this season, he is on top now. It was a pleasure to share a court with him and have an amazing final like this.”
Since triumphing in Rotterdam last March, Rublev had lost finals at ATP Masters 1000 tournaments in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati and on grass in Halle, an ATP 500 event. However, the second seed ensured he would not suffer the same heartache against Auger-Aliassime.
Rublev demonstrated his impressive mental strength in the championship match. The Russian rallied from a break down in the first set and recovered from failing to serve out the clash at 5-4 in the second set. He then saved a set point on serve at 5-6, 30/40 in the second set to eventually triumph after one hour and 57 minutes.
“I had to increase my level otherwise I would have had no chance against Felix,” Rublev said. “From 5-4 he started to play even better and I was thinking it would go to three sets. But somehow I was able to raise my level and in the end it was tough.”
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With his victory, the World No. 7 has now improved his ATP Head2Head series over the Canadian to 3-1, avenging the semi-final defeat he suffered against Auger-Aliassime in Rotterdam last week.
The 24-year-old will now take to court in the doubles final with Denys Molchanov, aiming to become just the third man in the tournament’s 30-year history to win the singles and doubles titles in the same edition (Thomas Enqvist 1997, Michael Llodra 2010).
In a lively start, Auger-Aliassime raced into a 2-0 lead. However, Rublev quickly found his range, responding immediately to level as he stepped inside the baseline to pin the Canadian deep behind the baseline. The Russian, who fired seven aces in the first set, then raised his level at the end of the first set, breaking to lead 6-5, before holding serve to seal the opener.
The second set was a tight affair with both continuing to go blow-to-blow from the baseline. Auger-Aliassime, however, showed signs he was tiring following his busy recent schedule. Three breaks were exchanged in a row from 2-2, with Rublev earning two.
Yet the Russian was unable to serve out the match at 5-4, with Auger-Aliassime pulling Rublev from corner to corner as he broke back to love. However, the Russian quickly regained his focus, saving a set point on serve at 5-6, 30/40, before he played consistently and aggressively in the tie-break to seal his victory.
Auger-Aliassime was aiming to clinch his second title in as many weeks, having captured his maiden tour-level trophy in Rotterdam last week. The Canadian did not drop a set en route to the final in Marseille, defeating childhood idol Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, World No. 49 Ilya Ivashka and Russian Roman Safiullin.
Did You Know?
Rublev battled back from 2-5 in the third set against Richard Gasquet in his first match of the week in Marseille, advancing 7-6(3) in the decider after two hours and 27 minutes.