Rublev Finishes Breakthrough Season In Style
Russian won five titles in 2020
Andrey Rublev ended his debut appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals on Thursday with a 6-2, 7-5 victory against Dominic Thiem.
The Russian, who was eliminated from semi-final contention on Tuesday, won 80 per cent of first-serve points (28/35) to finish his breakthrough 2020 ATP Tour campaign with a 41-10 record. Rublev has now won three consecutive matches against Thiem and leads his ATP Head2Head series against the Austrian for the first time (3-2).
“I started really well, since the first point [and] since the first return,” said Rublev in an on-court interview. “Dominic didn’t start that well and I took advantage [from] the beginning. That helped me to have more confidence and helped me to play better and better… I wish Dominic the best of luck in the semi-finals, he deserves to be where he is and he deserves to win the title.”
Rublev recovered well from the disappointment of failing to convert match point in his second round-robin match against Stefanos Tsitsipas. The seven-time ATP Tour titlist has ended Group London 2020 with one win from three matches and denied Thiem an undefeated round-robin record. Rublev also earned 200 FedEx ATP Rankings points for his victory at The O2.
“I feel happy to be here," said Rublev. "I was so close in my second match. I had match point and I was serving, so it could have been a completely different story if I won two matches. I would maybe still have a chance to be in the semi-finals… It is a part of life, [I] just need to keep working and we will see what is going to happen next.”
Rublev made a perfect start on Centre Court, as he consistently attacked Thiem’s backhand and returned with depth to race into a 4-0 lead. The Russian won 100 per cent of his first-serve points (11/11) and he took the first set by serving and volleying on his second set point.
The 23-year-old covered the court well and capitalised on Thiem forehand errors to gain an early break in the second set. After dropping his serve at 4-3, Rublev ripped forehands and capitalised on double faults to serve for the match. The World No. 8 held serve with his 11th ace of the match.
Thiem was attempting to earn his 300th tour-level win. The Austrian, who guaranteed his position as Group London 2020 winner on Tuesday, will now prepare for his semi-final encounter against Novak Djokovic or Alexander Zverev on Saturday. Djokovic and Zverev will meet on Friday in a repeat of the 2018 championship match.
In the evening session, Rafael Nadal will face Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the semi-finals. The winner will take on Group Tokyo 1970 winner Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals on Saturday.
“I'm going to play against the winner of this match [between Djokovic and Zverev] and both of them are great," said Thiem. "Both are former champions of this tournament… The goal is to find the great intensity tomorrow in practice and then try to be 100 per cent in the match on Saturday, whoever I face.”
Did You Know?
Rublev currently leads the ATP Tour this season with 41 wins and five trophies. Only World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who owns a 40-4 record and four titles this year, is within reach of those marks this week.