Rublev: ‘It’s All About The Mental Side’ Against Zverev
Andrey Rublev is a firm believer streaks are meant to be broken. But having snapped one against compatriot Daniil Medvedev in the Western & Southern Open semi-finals on Saturday, a repeat of the feat against Alexander Zverev proved a bridge too far on Sunday.
Zverev captured his fifth ATP Masters 1000 title with a 6-2, 6-3 victory and took his ATP Head2Head record to 5-0 against the Russian. Rublev was attempting to win his first match in five ATP Head2Head meetings for the second day running, after he had done so against top seed Medvedev.
The 23-year-old had lost all 10 sets against Medvedev and all nine against Zverev coming into Cincinnati. While he managed to turn the tide in the semi-finals, he admitted there was still a hurdle to figure out the Zverev puzzle at tour level.
“Maybe you need to win at least once… to find this key,” Rublev said. “Sometimes when you're losing match by match, in the end it's not easy. And you can see that the way I lost a couple of times to him [did not feel] real, because it's a bit too easy, the score is much easier, and the match is much easier than it should be.
“We play in practices, and it's always… tough sets. You can see that we play a similar level. And then when you go [into the] match and you're losing like today, 2 and 3, it's more mental. It's not about game.
“It's all about [the] mental [side] that you need to find the key how to behave inside of yourself in these matches. Because the game is there, so it's not about the game.”
In the second ATP Masters 1000 final of his career, following a runner-up showing to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in May, Rublev made a nervous start as he lost his opening two service games. It was the only opening Zverev required to extend his winning streak to 11 matches, following his Tokyo Olympics gold medal run.
“In the end that was the key to the beginning that I couldn't save my serve. I said then you feel a bit more down that he's serving so good, and it's going to be super tough to break him,” Rublev said. “Even if he [makes] some mistakes, he still has [the] advantage. Plus he's now on super confidence after the Olympic Games, winning some great matches here.
“… When you start a break down – even I know by myself when I break someone in the first game – it's double easier to play after. So that was, in the end, the key.”