© Getty Images/Alexander Scheuber

Andrey Rublev celebrates notching the second Top 10 win of his career on Friday over Dominic Thiem in Hamburg.

Rublev Upsets Thiem In Hamburg For Second Top 10 Win

Russian now meets Carreno Busta

Russia’s Andrey Rublev played with great aggression on Friday to record the biggest win of his career for a place in the Hamburg European Open semi-finals.

The 21-year-old upset two-time Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem 7-6(3), 7-6(5) in one hour and 47 minutes at the Am Rothenbaum, venue of the ATP 500 clay-court tournament. It was his second Top 10 win, following on from his victory over then No. 9-ranked Grigor Dimitrov at the 2017 US Open.

“In my opinion, he is the best player on clay after Rafa [Nadal],” said Rublev. “So, of course to have a match like this is something special and for sure I hope that it will give me the confidence and I will keep working and keep improving… I was just saying to myself that it’s going to be a match [about] who is going to try to be more aggressive.”

World No. 78 Rublev recovered two break deficits in the first set, which saw top seed Thiem serve with a 5-3 lead. Rublev won the first four points of the tie-break and hit a forehand winner to clinch the opener on his second set point chance.

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Deep returns from Rublev created an opening in the sixth game of the second set, when his Austrian opponent appeared to be affected by the sunlight. A double fault handed Rublev a break point at 30/40, which Thiem saved with a powerful serve. Rublev didn’t let a mis-timed forehand at 1/2 in the tie-break deter him, as he went on to win five straight points.

“The match was basically under my control and then I did some pretty stupid things in that game [at 4-2 up in the first set], let him back into the match,” said Thiem. “After that, I played an unbelievable game to break him again for 5-3 and then the game at 5-3 he also played very well, so that doesn’t bother me too much… In the second set, I didn’t have many chances on his serve. And the tie-break, at 3/1, maybe I got a little bit unlucky and then I made some mistakes and that was it. But the reason why I lost the match was in the first set.”

Rublev, who missed six weeks of the 2019 ATP Tour season due to a right wrist injury, is 12-9 on the season and will now face Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, who ousted third-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(4) in two hours and 38 minutes.

Entering the match, Carreno Busta held a 6-0 lead in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Fognini, winning the first set in their previous four matches. But even after Fognini claimed the first set Friday, Carreno Busta battled back, breaking the Italian six times from 23 chances to make his second ATP Tour semi-final of the year.

"I feel really good. It was a really tough match. Against Fabio, it’s always a tough match. You need to be very focussed," Carreno Busta said. "I accepted my mistakes and I tried to do better and in the middle of the second set, I started to play better and better... it was really close. I had a lot of match points, but finally in the tie-break I could do it."

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