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Andrey Rublev defeats big-serving Croatian qualifier Ivo Karlovic on Monday at the US Open.

Rublev Masters Karlovic’s Serve At US Open

Felix also advances

Fifth seed Andrey Rublev produced a strong returning performance Monday to conquer 6’ 11” Croatian qualifier Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-3 and reach the second round at the US Open.

The Russian has struggled against big servers in the past, holding a 0-3 record against 6’ 10” American John Isner. However, in Rublev’s first meeting with Karlovic, he was able to neutralise the 42-year-old's main threat as he broke twice to advance in one hour and 36 minutes.

The 23-year-old, who fired 27 winners past Karlovic, has fond memories of New York. In 2017, a 19-year-old Rublev became the youngest US Open quarter-finalist since Andy Roddick in 2001. The eight-time tour-level titlist also advanced to the last eight at Flushing Meadows last year.

Rublev arrived at the US Open in form after earning his first victory over countryman Daniil Medvedev en route to his second ATP Masters 1000 final in Cincinnati earlier this month. Rublev will look to continue his momentum against Pedro Martinez in the second round after the Spaniard overcame James Duckworth 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-2, 6-2.

Rublev made a fast start against Karlovic, breaking immediately when the Croatian found the net with a volley. The Russian won 50 per cent of points on Karlovic’s second serve and fired 10 winners to lead. With no break points on offer in the second set, Rublev was patient as they moved to a tie-break. He was then able to find the feet of Karlovic twice on return to take further control, before cruising through the third set to seal his victory.

At 42, Karlovic became the oldest player to qualify at the US Open in the Open Era. Before coming through three matches in qualifying, the former World No. 14 had not won consecutive matches at any level since reaching the final of an ATP Challenger Tour event in Houston in November 2019.

With victory, the Croatian would have become the oldest player to defeat a Top 10 opponent at a major since the start of the FedEx ATP Rankings in 1973.

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Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime reached the fourth round at the US Open last season and set the wheels in motion for another run this year with a hard-fought 7-6(0), 3-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(8) first-round victory over qualifier Evgeny Donskoy.

The 21-year-old, who lost against eventual champion Dominic Thiem at Flushing Meadows in 2020, raised his level to break at 4-5 in the third set. He saved a set point at 7/8 in the fourth-set tie-break, before advancing after four hours.

Earlier this month, Auger-Aliassime bounced back from a disappointing second-round defeat on home soil in Toronto by reaching his second Masters 1000 quarter-final in Cincinnati, overcoming World No. 8 Matteo Berrettini en route to the last eight.

The 12th seed, who advanced to his maiden major quarter-final at Wimbledon in July and reached his eighth tour-level final in Stuttgart in June, will next face qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles after the Spaniard beat countryman Feliciano Lopez 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-4, 3-6, 3-6.

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