Rublev Pulls Double Duty To Reach D.C. SFs
The World No. 8 backed up a win earlier in the day against Maxime Cressy with a 6-2, 6-3 win over American J.J. Wolf to book a semi-final showdown with Yoshihito Nishioka. The Japanese lefty extended his perfect ATP Head2Head record against Daniel Evans to 5-0 after a gruelling 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-5 win over three hours, 35 minutes.
Having not dropped a set all week, Rublev conceded just five games against Wolf in a comfortable one hour and 18 minute victory.
D.C’s top seed was equally efficient despite facing very different opponents Friday. “The two players that I faced are completely different. In the morning, there were no rallies and this afternoon when we started to play, I needed time to adjust but then I started to play well and I am happy that I finished in straight sets,” said the three-time titlist in 2022.
Nishioka reaches his first Tour-level semi-final of the season and first since Delray Beach in 2020. The 26-year-old is on an excellent run in D.C., knocking out three seeded players (Atlanta champion Alex De Minaur, Karen Khachanov and Evans) as well as Atlanta finalist Jenson Brooksby in the first round.
“I never gave up and that’s the way I think I won today. I just focused on making a lot of balls and to play long rallies. I knew he didn’t want to because he was getting tired,” the Japanese star said.
Rublev completed part one of a two-step mission earlier in the day by defeating American Maxime Cressy 6-4, 7-6(8) in a match postponed from Thursday due to rain.
Rublev’s combined match time today was exactly three hours, 35 minutes less time than Nishioka spent on court against Evans.
In the third game of both sets tonight, Rublev was able to break the 23-year-old Wolf’s serve. He saved all four break points he faced.
“I didn’t spend much time on court…and I think that was the main key today,” Rublev expressed.
Rublev advances to his seventh semi-final of the season and should he claim his fourth title of the year he will rise to fourth in the Pepperstone ATP Race to Turin.
In warm and humid conditions earlier in the day, Rublev got off to a hot start against serve-and-volleyer Cressy, who forced the 24-year-old to consistently come up with high-quality passing shots. “To be honest it’s super tough to manage this type of style because you have to be focused 100%; you never know what to expect,” the 2018 D.C. semi-finalist said.
Rublev was dominant in the first set, breaking in the third game and winning all 14 of his first serve points.
The turning point in the second set came with Cressy serving at 5/3 in the tie-break. The 6’6” former UCLA star dashed to the net following a blistering serve and had a routine put-away smash on top of the net to set up three set points. Cressy fired the smash directly at Rublev, who despite standing just inside the baseline, reflexed back another easy overhead, which Cressy hit wide.
Rublev later admitted that he thought the second set was over when Cressy had the mini-break. “In my head, the second set was done and I’ll just do my best to finish the second and I’ll fight for the third,” Rublev recalled.
Wolf, who received a wild card into Washington, D.C., is into his first Tour-level quarter-final after defeating Holger Rune 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. Rallying to win the final four games, the former Ohio State standout now climbs up to a career-high 83 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.
Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios needed just 14 minutes today to complete his Round of 16 match against Reilly Opelka. The match resumed with Opelka serving at 1-2, 0/30. Kyrgios immediately stamped his authority on the match by breaking in that game and never relinquished the momentum as he cruised to a 7-6(1), 6-2 win.