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Andrey Rublev battles past Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Thursday in Barcelona.

Rublev Below His Best, But Survives In Barcelona

Russian star to next play Bautista Agut or Sinner

Andrey Rublev worked his way into the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell quarter-finals on Thursday, but was far from his best in a 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-4 victory over Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas in two hours and 27 minutes.

The third-seeded Russian found a way to record an ATP Tour-best 26th match win of the season, striking 24 of his 35 winners off his forehand wing and clinching 12 of 14 points at the net. He finished runner-up to Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final.

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Rublev, who felt “angry” after his opening-round win over Italian lucky loser Federico Gaio on Wednesday, admitted, “Nothing has changed, I didn’t learn my lessons. The most important thing is that I managed to win today. When you’re not doing something correctly, but you’re still winning matches, it gives you confidence. Albert was playing much better than me early in the third set, but you never know which way it will go.”

Rublev, who picked up the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament title in Rotterdam (d. Fucsovics) last month, will next challenge Italian No. 11 seed Jannik Sinner, the recent Miami Open presented by Itau finalist, on Friday. The pair met in October last year at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, but Sinner retired at 1-2 in the first set.

Rublev opened up a 4-1 lead in the first set, but let Ramos-Vinolas back in. Groundstroke errors cost the World No. 7 in the second-set tie-break and while he led 4-2 in the decider, Ramos-Vinolas recovered once again. Ramos-Vinolas, this season’s Cordoba Open finalist (l. to J. Cerundolo), could not convert four break points at 4-5 and paid the price as Rublev finished off with a forehand winner.

Later in the day, Jannik Sinner extended his perfect ATP Head2Head record to 3-0 against fifth-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut with a 7-6(9), 6-2 victory in one hour and 56 minutes.

Sinner, the No. 11 seed from Italy, who broke into the Top 20 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time this week, saved set points at 5/6, 7/8 and 8/9 in the first set tie-break. Sinner previously beat Bautista Agut this year at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and also en route to the Miami Open presented by Itau final.

The 19-year-old Italian clinched his second ATP Tour title in February at the Great Ocean Road Open (d. Travaglia).

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