Zverev Ends Rublev's Streak, Reaches Quarter-finals
German will next play Wawrinka at Melbourne Park
Alexander Zverev completed a polished performance on Monday night for advance to the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time. Three years ago, his brother, Mischa Zverev, reached the last eight (l. to Federer).
The seventh-seeded German came through 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes against childhood friend Andrey Rublev, ending the Russian’s 15-match winning streak dating back to November last year. Zverev has reached two Grand Slam championship quarter-finals before at Roland Garros in 2018 and 2019.
“It feels amazing,” said Zverev, who won 49 of his 54 first-service points and struck 11 aces. “I played some great matches against some great opponents. This is Andrey’s first loss of the season, having won two tournaments and getting through to the fourth round with unbelievable tennis. I’ve known Andrey since we were 10 years old… I think he will be Top 15, Top 10 very soon. I’m just happy and I hope I can continue.”
The World No. 7 will next challenge Stan Wawrinka, the No. 15 seed and 2014 champion, and look to extend his perfect 2-0 ATP Head2Head record. Wawrinka beat fourth-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev in five sets earlier on Monday.
“The first match [against Marco Cecchinato at the Australian Open] wasn't the best, but I won," said Zverev. "The second match [against Egor Gerasimov] wasn't the best either, but I won. Then it went better and better. I hope it will continue being like that. The draw isn't getting easier. Stan is a multiple Grand Slam champion. It's going to be very difficult playing against him.
“He showed why he's a Grand Slam champion, beating [Daniil] Medvedev, coming back from two-sets-to-one down, playing great tennis. He's still one of the toughest players to play, especially here in Australia.”
After Rublev double faulted at 3-3, 15/15, Zverev sensed his chance. He then defended well from behind the baseline and Rublev handed him the first service break with a forehand approach into the net. Zverev consolidated the break and later closed out the 29-minute opener with Rublev hitting a crosscourt backhand wide.
Rublev went after too much in the first game of the second set and paid the price. Zverev closed out another 29-minute set with an ace in a hold to love, then bided his time in the third set until 4-4, when Rublev made another groundstroke error in his bid to scramble back a Zverev backhand.
Zverev completed his fourth match win of the year, having gone 0-3 for Team Germany at the ATP Cup at the start of 2020, with a forehand volley — his 34th winner of the pair’s fourth meeting (Zverev now 4-0).
“It felt good from start to finish,” said Zverev. “Obviously, it’s nice to get a win like that against a quality player… I'm happy with how it went."
Rublev, also 22, lifted trophies at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open crown (d. Moutet) and the Adelaide International (d. Harris) in the first weeks of the year. He was the first player since Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty in 2004 to win consecutive titles to begin a season. Prior to losing to Zverev, Rublev had beaten wild card Christopher O'Connell, Yuichi Sugita and No. 11 seed David Goffin in Melbourne.