Rublev Races Into AO Second Round
Days after helping steer Russia to its first ATP Cup title with an undefeated run in singles, Rublev picked up where he left off in Melbourne Park and fought to a 6-3, 6-3 6-4 victory over Hanfmann.
“I don’t know if it’s the best tennis [in my career], but for sure I’m showing great tennis [at the moment],” Rublev said in his on-court interview. “I was showing a really high level at the ATP Cup, and I’m really happy that I’m winning match by match.”
Rublev is arguably one of the most in-form players on Tour after a breakout 2020 season saw him lift five ATP Tour titles and break the Top 10 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time. Seeded No. 7, Rublev brought all of that momentum into his first-round clash against 29-year-old Hanfmann, who was making his main draw debut at the Australian Open.
No.102-ranked Hanfmann took advantage of a nervy start from the 23-year-old Russian and broke to love to start the match with a 2-0 lead. But Rublev shook off his frustration and honed his game plan, changing the direction of the ball at will as he went after his shots. He quickly erased Hanfmann’s lead, and once he found his rhythm there was little the German could do to rattle him. Rublev broke two more times to close out the opening set.
Swinging freely after successfully navigating past the early test, Rublev settled into the match and kept Hanfmann under pressure as he took the ball early to stay and stayed aggressive on the return. Rublev sealed the second set with his 12th ace of the match – the ninth ace he struck that set – and closed out the match after an hour and 41 minutes on John Cain Arena. Rublev finished the match with 17 aces and won 80 per cent of points behind his first serve en route to victory.
“We played for the first time, and I started a bit tight,” Rublev said. “But this is normal, and I was really happy that I could control the match almost since the beginning. In the end, I was the one who was controlling the match, so I’m really happy that I could finish the match quite confident in three sets.”
Rublev moves into the second round where he’ll face Thiago Monteiro for the first time after the Brazilian lefty defeated Andrej Martin in straight sets 7-6(6), 6-1, 6-2 to advance. Monteiro came into the Australian Open looking to build off a run to the Murray River Open quarter-finals, his career-best result on outdoor hard courts.
Radu Albot recovered from a set down to upset 2019 quarter-finalist Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7(1), 6-0, 6-4, 7-6(5). The 31-year-old, who is the only Moldovan player to have competed at a Grand Slam, fired 51 winners to reach the second round after three hours and 15 minutes.
Bautista Agut was attempting to reach the second round in Melbourne for the eighth time in 10 appearances. The Spaniard entered the Australian Open with a 1-2 record this year, following Spain’s run to the ATP Cup semi-finals last week. Albot will meet Aussie wild card Christopher O’Connell in the second round. The 26-year-old recorded a 7-6(2), 7-6(5), 6-1 victory against Jan-Lennard Struff.
Lorenzo Sonego booked his place in the second round in Melbourne with a 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 win against Sam Querrey. The 31st seed, who defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Vienna last October, broke the American’s serve once in each set and did not face a break point throughout the match.
Sonego is through to the second round for the second time. The Italian will next face Feliciano Lopez, who battled past unranked Australian wild card Li Tu 6-7(1), 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-4 in two hours and 46 minutes.