Rublev’s Way to the Madrid Title

by Bonnie Kilgore
rublev madrid win

Seventh seed Andrey Rublev generated an outstanding semifinal performance to defeat American Taylor Fritz 6 – 4, 6 – 3 to ascend to his fifth Masters 1000 championship match.

Rublev stated, “Mentally I was feeling much better and I was able to perform”. When the Russian was asked what had changed after four straight tour level defeats, he said, “Putting emotions in the right direction. For sure it has helped me to reach the final. Without this, I would not be in the final”.

Lehecka Retires From Match

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime and Czech Jiri Lehecka were tied at 3 – 3 in the opening set during the other semifinal until Lehecka was unable to continue due to injury.

Lehecka left the match for an off-court medical timeout prior to serving in the seventh game when a lower back problem knocked him out of the midway point of the set.

Aliassime said after the match, “It’s crazy. I don’t know if it’s ever happened to a player before. It’s kind of a weird situation to be in on my part. It’s never happened to me in my career so far, a withdrawal or a walker or retirement of this sort, and back to back like this. I couldn’t believe what was happening when I saw his back blocked on him”.

Final Madrid Open

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime was one of the surprises of the ATP Madrid, he was pursuing his first ever Masters title and was looking certain for a win, Andrey Rublev mastered an opening set wobble to win the match 4 – 6, 7 – 5, 7 – 5 in the final Madrid Open to win his second Masters 1000 title.

Rublev started the tournament in poor condition. He had lost his previous four matches on the tour. Auger-Aliassime went into the final when three of his five opponents in the tournament gave him walkovers. This included Jannik Sinner who withdrew due to an injury before their quarterfinal confrontation. Questions were bandied about asking if the Canadian deserved to be in the final were laid to rest following his opening set. 

Rublev had an abysmal start when he was broken to love in the first game of the match with two defaults, seeing himself at 4 – 1 down.

Rublev made a new effort to subdue Auger-Aliassime’s onslaught by gaining control and serving well by using his strong forehand before confirming the opening set on serve with a dynamic win at the set.

The Russian was very aggressive with his shot-making in the second set. He also found his range on his first serve and consistently put Auger-Aliassime on the backfoot before securing the decisive break. The final set was the same which went with serve until Rublev broke again 6 – 5.

Following the match Auger-Aliassime graciously said, “Congrats to Andrey, very deserving winner. Congrats to you and your team. I tried till the end”.

After his win Rublev stated, “No words, if you know what I’ve been through in the last nine days, you wouldn’t imagine that I would be able to win a title… Last six weeks I was losing in the first rounds. I was (close to pulling out) because there were few issues I couldn’t fix, but I have to give full credit to the doctors. They were magical and did some tricky things… Somehow I was able to play. I’ve never seen this in my life”.

He added, “I would say this is the most proud title of my career. I didn’t sleep well the last three-four days”.

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