Rublev Proves Himself Wrong In Washington Opener

Top seed did not expect to beat Draper

Despite being the top seed at the Citi Open, Andrey Rublev was not expecting a long stay in Washington, D.C., once he learned that #NextGenATP star Jack Draper was his opening opponent.

But with a nothing-to-lose mindset, Rublev dominated the Briton on Tuesday in a 6-4, 6-2 victory that enabled him to conserve energy during a hot week in the United States.

"To be honest, I was thinking today... for sure it was a tough match, but I was thinking most likely I would lose the match," he revealed after the win. "I had that feeling because in Madrid he almost beat me. Today I was just going on court to do my best and I said since the beginning that maybe, most likely, I'm going to lose the match."

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Draper left a lasting impression in their first ATP Head2Head meeting at the Mutua Madrid Open in May, when Rublev edged through 2-6, 6-4, 7-5. But there would be no late drama in the D.C. sun, as Rublev controlled the second-round matchup throughout.

"In the end I'm happy that I was able to win in straight sets," he said.

The top seed converted on his seventh break point of the opening set and then secured an early break in the second. Draper earned his only two break points of the match as he fought for an immediate reply, but Rublev cleaned up the errors that led to the opening as he crucially held for 3-1. He lost just three points on first serve in the one-hour, 23-minute contest, posting an 89 per cent (24/27) win rate.

Rublev's respect for his opponent was clear as he remained on high alert down the stretch, showing frustration as he was unable to extend his lead. He would ultimately secure a second break to take the sting out of the contest before cooly serving out the match.

Asked if his low expectations were the key to victory, Rublev was not so sure. "I don't know, because sometimes when I think this way, I also lose matches," he said. "It's better to not ask me. My mind is out of order," he joked.

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The victory improves Rublev to 33-11 on season and 19-4 on hard courts. He is seeking his fourth title of the season (Marseille, Dubai, Belgrade), a mark which would draw him level with Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz for joint-most on the year.

He will next face the winner of the all-American matchup between 13th seed Maxime Cressy and Jack Sock. Sock battled back from two breaks down in the opening set to defeat David Goffin 7-6(4), 6-4 on Tuesday.

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