Rublev vs Auger-Aliassime: ATP Madrid Masters Final

by Simon Zeitler
Andrey Rublev in Madrid 2024

Well, here it is – maybe one of the most unexpected and unusual finals of a Masters 1000 in recent history, the 2024 Madrid final between Andrey Rublev and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Most probably there has never been a finalist, who had three opponents retire in one tournament, but that is only part of the story.

Their way to Madrid – and into the final!

Andrey Rublev is on top of the world right now. After being disqualified in Dubai due to the umpire’s decision, which was at best questionable, he had a horrendous run through the Sunshine Double. He dropped out of the No. 5 spot, which he had held for a long time and kept on losing in earlier rounds. But here in Madrid, things started to click again – he beat local heroes Davidovich Fokina and Alcaraz amongst others and is a deserving finalist once again.

Especially in his later victories against Alcaraz and Fritz, he played some outstanding tennis, where he added a solid variation and net game to his unique brand of power.

Felix Auger-Aliassime is another player, who didn’t have the best of starts to the season. He came of an underwhelming year of 2023, where despite hiring Toni Nadal as a coach, he never played up to the level of his breakout year in 2022. Injuries and a ton of unforced errors even forced the former World No. 6 out of the seeding spots and into early-round battles with the greats frequently.

But in the snowy conditions of Munich this year, it seemed that he found some drive back, which he carried onto Madrid. Granted, some of his most difficult opponents pulled out or retired in the matches, but he beat Nishioka, Mannarino and Ruud and surely is well rested.

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The Head-to-Head – how do these two match up?

On paper this is the World No. 8 vs the World No. 35, Rublev leads the head-to-head 4-1 and we all know Felix’s struggles in finals previously. So, is this a sure-shot victory for Andrey Rublev? Not so fast there – four of their five matches came on hardcourts, the last three of those indoors and the last one on clay was in Umag 2018, when both were absolute newcomers.

We know that Rublev likes rhythm and Felix is a player that gives his opponents just that, so the key for Auger-Aliassime here might be to play a varied game and serve well. If Uncle Toni has helped him in one part, it is the serve plus one and surely his coach also has a few clay tricks up his sleeve. Plus, the Canadian comes in well rested after just playing three full matches up to the final.

On the other hand, Rublev plays his best tennis right now, surely is on the track of vengeance after the Dubai events and seems to have added elements to his game that we haven’t seen before. There was no indication that he seemed tired and clay surely isn’ t his weak surface, as his maiden Masters title came on just that surface in similar conditions. He has a 15-9 career record in finals and I doubt that his nerves will be any different because of a final. If at all, it is probably just his usual self-criticism that might come into his way here.

Felix Auger-Aliassime

Let’s see where this one is going – Prediction and Odds

While I do not see the chances of Felix as slim as some experts, I think the 2024 Madrid final is obviously Andrey Rublev’s to lose. He is the favorite by both previous results and head-to-head statistics. But his opponent comes in hungry and well-rested, with a desire to show the fans that he deserves to be in this final. For him, he could turn around a year of misfortune and disappointment in just one game and he knows this.

Which leads me to another deciding factor – their mental game. We all know that these two are some of the greatest players on tour, but they both tend to talk down on themselves. Rublev’s anger issues have not just been discussed since Dubai and Auger-Aliassime looks back to a 0-8 finals record, before finally breaking this trend in 2022.

The sports bettors seem to agree, with money-line being clearly in favor of Rublev (-250 | 1.40) against Auger-Aliassime (+180 | 2.80). And I would agree that everything but a straight-set victory for the Russian would be a surprise. But who knows, maybe we all underestimate Felix’s form and he can turn this final into a grind and come out on top!

What do you think and who is your favorite this time?

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