Rublev Battles Past Kyrgios In Hard-Hitting US Open Affair
Two years ago when he was 19, Andrey Rublev became the youngest US Open quarter-finalist since a 19-year-old Andy Roddick in 2001. And on Saturday evening, the Russian moved to within one victory of reaching the last eight at Flushing Meadows once again.
In a hard-hitting match, Rublev squeaked past Nick Kyrgios and the Aussie's 30 aces 7-6(5), 7-6(5), 6-3 to reach the fourth round after one hour and 51 minutes. The 21-year-old upset No. 8 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round.
"In the end, everything was today on my side," Rublev said.
Rublev, who has not advanced past the third round at another Grand Slam championship, has enjoyed a resurgent month on the ATP Tour. At the Western & Southern Open, the two-time Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier defeated Roger Federer for the biggest win of his career. And the 2017 Umag champion has not suffered a letdown in New York, crushing groundstrokes relentlessly to reach the second week.
In the first set, both players dominated with their serve, with neither man earning a break point. And in the tie-break, errors cost Kyrgios dearly. The Aussie made errors he had not been making throughout the first 12 games, including a miss on a sitting backhand volley.
Kyrgios ripped a backhand down the line return at 5/6 that missed by centimetres — if by that much — to give Rublev the lead in the pair’s second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. Kyrgios triumphed in three sets last year in Moscow.
"In the beginning I was thinking, 'I hope I can make it to a tie-break and I hope in three sets at least I will win one tie-break and maybe I will have a chance,'" Rublev said. "So when I won the first set in a tie-break I said, 'Phew, this is already really good.'"
The decisive moment in the match came in the second-set tie-break. Kyrgios got off to a much better start, taking a 4/0 lead. But Rublev maintained his focus and with a big return on his first set point, he forced an error from the No. 28 seed. The World No. 43 earned the match's only break in the third set and rode that to a victory.
"The tie-break, even though it looks like 4/0 is a huge difference, if you win one point then make two good serves it's already 4/3," Rublev said. "And then 4/3 someone [can] get tight or a lucky return or unlucky serve or a lucky serve. It looks like a big advantage, but in the end it's not really."
Before Wimbledon this July, Berrettini had never reached the fourth round of a major. But now, the 23-year-old has done so at two consecutive Slams.
Berrettini showed his resilience in the fourth set, as it appeared Popyrin had seized all the momentum. The 20-year-old broke for a 6-5 lead after a 10-deuce game. But instead of showing disappointment, Berrettini dug deep to force a tie-break and then he closed out the match, striking 57 winners across the four sets.
Did You Know?
Rublev advanced to his first ATP 500 final last month in Hamburg, where he fell against Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili in the championship match.