Rublev Continues Russian Charge, Rises Into Top 5
Russia has two players inside the Top 5 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time in almost 20 years, with Andrey Rublev joining second-placed countryman Daniil Medvedev at the top of the men’s game this week.You have to go back to September 2002 for the last time two Russian men sat inside the Top 5, when Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov were in second and fourth place respectively. Back then, 20-time major champion Roger Federer was still waiting to win his first Slam and #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz was yet to be born.
This season, Russians have won seven tour-level trophies, including the ATP Cup title. For Rublev, the relationships they have built have been a crucial factor.
“All of us have a really great connection,” Rublev told ATPTour.com. “Especially me, Karen and Daniil because we have known each other since the juniors when we were six or seven years old.
“We knew Aslan from before, but we never really talked that often in the past, but now we are in teams together and see each other on Tour each week in the tournaments, we are having a good connection with Aslan and together.”
While Rublev believes these strong bonds have been important in their success, the 23-year-old insists it ultimately comes down to individual work ethic, with all four following different routes.
“All of us are good friends, but we don’t cross with each other or work with the same guys or follow the same strategy,” Rublev said. “Daniil has his own vision of how to practise. I have my own vision, Karen has his own, Karatsev has his own.
“All of us practise in different places and in the end, all of us found a way to make it. We didn’t all have the same coach until 15. We all just had our own way and it has worked out for us.”
Rublev captured his first victory over Medvedev in his fifth tour-level match against the 25-year-old in the semi-finals in Cincinnati. But he watched from afar when the World No. 2 defeated Novak Djokovic to win his first major title at the US Open last week.
It is a triumph Rublev, who advanced to the third round at Flushing Meadows, hopes will help further grow the sport in Russia.
“I hope now after this, he brings tennis in Russia to the next level,” Rublev said. “For the last three years, tennis in Russia was a lot, but I hope even now after he won a major, it is going to be double. Even more people will follow and even more parents are going to bring kids to tennis.
“I hope tennis will be one of the main sports in Russia like it was when Kafelnikov and Safin played. I can’t even imagine how he is feeling now. I wish, maybe one day I can feel what it feels like, but what he did was unreal.”
Alongside Medvedev, Rublev has enjoyed great success in the past year since first soaring into the Top 10 last October. The 23-year-old won his fourth ATP 500 crown in Rotterdam, before enjoying runs to ATP Masters 1000 finals in Monte-Carlo and Cincinnati.
These results have been crucial in helping Rublev crack the Top 5, with his target now to remain there and finish the season strongly as he aims to qualify for the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.
“I am working really hard and in the past, I got a bit injured, so it was not easy,” Rublev said. “Now I feel I can play freely and nothing is destroying me. After these years I have fixed everything and am not having injuries and I kept working and, in the end, everything came together.“I would like to finish the season really strongly, the best I can. I would like to qualify for Turin. I am not thinking about finishing fourth, fifth or sixth. I am just trying to finish as well as I can and then we will see what happens.”