Birthday Boy Rublev Prevails At Home In Moscow
It was a case of déjà vu on Sunday at the VTB Kremlin Cup. A Russian dominated seventh-seeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino to take the title in Moscow for the second year in a row, but this time it was sixth seed Andrey Rublev who cruised to a 6-4, 6-0 victory on his 22nd birthday.
Rublev hadn't won a match in Moscow in six previous attempts, but took his second ATP Tour title and became the ninth Russian to prevail at this event. He's won 19 of his past 25 matches and will crack the Top 25 of the ATP Rankings for the first time when the newest standings are released on Monday.
“I’m at a loss. I can’t find the right words for what it means to me to win here,” Rublev said. “I grew up with this tournament. I spent my whole childhood at the VTB Kremlin Cup. I will remember this tournament and this win for many years, and I’ll hopefully be playing this tournament for many years down the road.”
Mannarino's steady tennis brought him to the final without dropping a set, but the Frenchman was beaten at his own game on Centre Court. Rublev was able to engage in extended baseline rallies, but possessed the firepower to take control of points and launch winners when opportunities arose. The Russian broke in the opening game after drawing a forehand error from Mannarino and held his slight advantage to take the early lead.
The second set was one-way traffic as Mannarino continued to offer birthday gifts in the form of unforced errors. Rublev dropped just three points in setting up triple championship point. The magnitude of the moment hit the Russian and he struck a pair of double faults to erase the first two, but he made good on the third chance and dropped to his knees after prevailing in 63 minutes.
Despite the loss, Mannarino has continued to produce solid results in the second half of the year. He finished runner-up last month in Zhuhai (l. to De Minaur) and earned his first ATP Tour title this June in 's-Hertogenbosch (d. Thompson). The Frenchman has posted a 20-11 record since the start of the grass-court season.
“It’s another great week for me in Moscow and I always enjoy competing here,” Mannarino said. “It was just too good from him today.”
Rublev earned 250 ATP Rankings points and $144,830. Mannarino picked up 150 ATP Rankings points and $78,310.
Both men will compete next week at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, with Rublev opening against sixth-seeded #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime and Mannarino squaring off with American Sam Querrey.