Rublev Battles To Doha Title
Andrey Rublev couldn’t have asked for a better start to his season. The second-seeded Russian earned his third ATP Tour title on Saturday at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha with a 6-2, 7-6(3) victory over #NextGenATP Frenchman Corentin Moutet.
“It’s amazing. I’m always really happy to play here. I always enjoy my time here and to finally win the title is something special for me,” Rublev said. “It’s an amazing start to the season for me and I hope I can keep this level.”
Rublev continued his love affair with Doha, improving to 9-2 and surpassing his runner-up showing in 2018 (l. to Monfils). The 22-year-old is the third-youngest champion in tournament history, only trailing Andy Murray (2008-2009). He also joins Nikolay Dayvdenko (2010) as the only Russians to prevail at this event.
The second seed was in top form from the first ball and powered through the draw without dropping a set. He finished the week leading the field in first-serve points won (80%) and return games won (15/37, 41%), and finished second in service games won (33/36, 92%).
Despite the loss, Moutet has plenty of positives to take from this week. The French qualifier ousted fourth-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic and top-seeded Swiss Stan Wawrinka en route to clinching his first ATP Tour final appearance. Moutet also showed off his improved fitness by winning back-to-back matches on Friday against Spaniard Fernando Verdasco and Wawrinka to reach the championship match.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t win tonight because the opponent was too good. But I will remember this all my life,” Moutet said.
Both men will be rewarded for their efforts by achieving career-high FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday. Rublev will make his Top 20 debut and Moutet will crack the Top 75 for the first time.
“There is still much to work on, but I’m happy to become a Top 20 player,” Rublev said. “I think this is a good part of me, that I still have a lot of space to improve. I want to try to arrive to my maximum and then we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
The first set was one-way traffic for Rublev, who raced to a 3-0 lead after nine minutes. Moutet started slowly, perhaps feeling the effects from his pair of grueling three-set wins on Friday, while Rublev used his forehand to dictate the baseline rallies. The Russian wrapped up the set with seven winners to just three unforced errors.
It appeared that Rublev would sprint to the title after jumping to another 3-0 advantage in the second set. But Moutet dug deep, adding more height to his shots in the windy conditions and altering the tempo of their exchanges. The Frenchman earned his first pair of break points with Rublev serving at 3-1 and converted after the Russian missed an overhead smash.
A series of comfortable service holds led to a tie-break, where the second seed resumed his dominance and sprinted to a 6/1 lead. A big forehand from Rublev on his third championship point wrapped up the win after one hour and 27 minutes.
Rublev earns 250 FedEx ATP Rankings points and $227,930. Moutet leaves with 150 points and $126,160.