Rublev Battles Back For First ATP 500 Final in Hamburg
Andrey Rublev began his week in Hamburg having made just one ATP Tour quarter-final this season. And on Saturday, the 2017-18 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier was on the brink of elimination when he trailed Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6, 2-4.
But the Russian battled back to defeat Carreno Busta 4-6, 7-5, 6-1, advancing to the Hamburg European Open final.
“At one moment I didn’t give up, but kind of accepted that he is much better than me today,” said Rublev. “I broke him back (at 4-3 in the second set), then he got a little tight and I started to play even better. In the third set, I felt much more confident… and then everything was so fast.”
It was the second incredible comeback of the day in Hamburg, as Nikoloz Basilashvili, Rublev’s opponent in the championship match, saved two match points en route to ousting reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev. Rublev did not need to save a match point, but he won 11 of the match’s final 13 games to triumph after one hour and 52 minutes.
This will be Rublev’s first ATP Tour final since 2018 Doha, which came in the first week of last season. The Russian won his maiden tour-level trophy two years ago in Umag as a lucky loser.
Rublev, who climbed as high as No. 31 in the ATP Rankings last February, has struggled with injuries over the past year and a half. He missed three months last season due to a lower back stress fracture, and he was out for six weeks this year due to a wrist injury.
It seemed Carreno Busta, who was pursuing his first final since triumphing in Estoril two years ago, was too solid from the baseline for the powerful Rublev. But the 21-year-old began to find his range, frustrating the Spaniard. And once the World No. 78 got into a rhythm, he rode his momentum to the finish line.
Rublev crushed an inside-out forehand winner to finish the match, turning around to his team and pumping his fist in celebration. The Russian struck 11 aces and broke Carreno Busta’s serve five times.
Basilashvili won his only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head match against Rublev, emerging victorious in straight sets in Doha earlier this year. Rublev will try to lift his first ATP 500 trophy when he battles the defending champion.
“Everybody is tired, everybody has had tough matches. It’s a different feeling and different emotions, so we’ll see how it’s going to be tomorrow,” said Rublev. “It’s my first ATP 500 final. Of course, I’d like to win and will try my best, but it’s been an amazing week for me.”