Despite committing a double fault while holding match point in a must-win round robin match at the Nitto ATP Finals, Andrey Rublev’s overriding emotion after his loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas was not disappointment.
The Russian, who is no longer able to qualify for the semi-finals, showed gratitude for the consistent success he has experienced this season and focussed on what he can learn from his second defeat of the tournament on Tuesday night.
“I am grateful for this season. I cannot complain,” said Rublev. “I won so many tournaments that I never won before. This year, I won more tournaments than in [the rest of] my career. I won more matches than [any other year] in my career. I am the one who cannot complain. I can only be grateful for this season. I became Top 10 for the first time, so this season was amazing for me.”
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At one point, it looked like Rublev would be heading back to his private locker room at The O2 with less than an hour on the clock. The Russian managed to win just one game in the first set, which Tsitsipas claimed in 19 minutes.
But Rublev raised his game in the second set and came within one point of earning his first victory at the elite eight-man event. The seven-time tour-level titlist was proud of the mental strength he showed and how he was able to turn the match around after such a one-sided opening to the encounter.
“It is amazing [that] I could turn around this match,” said Rublev. “Basically, it was supposed to be maybe 6-1, 6-3 and I was still there, I was still fighting and, in the end, I had match point…. I was almost there and I had my chance to win the match, so I am really happy with my mental [strength] today. This is the only thing I can take to play against Dominic, because against Dominic you need to have really strong mental [strength] and then you need to play an amazing match.”
The 23-year-old may no longer be able to qualify for the semi-finals, but he is still motivated to test himself in his final Group London 2020 match against Dominic Thiem.
Rublev will be searching for his third straight ATP Head2Head victory against the Austrian, who became the first player to qualify for the semi-finals on Tuesday. The Russian recently defeated the World No. 3 en route to his fifth title of the season at last month’s Erste Bank Open in Vienna.
“Dominic won two matches. He [played] one of the best matches this year today against Rafa, so he is already in the semi-finals. He has nothing to lose,” said Rublev. “He will go on court and he will play free. He is in really great form now, so we will see. This week he [has been] much better than me, but still I will try to give my best effort to see if I can compete.
“It is a great experience because this event gives you chances to play against the best players and you have to use all of them. It doesn’t matter even if I am already out. Still I have to play my maximum because, in the end, it is the best players and I need to perform my best.”
If Rublev can earn a win against Thiem, he will not only end his breakthrough season with a career-best 41st victory of the year, he will also gain 200 FedEx ATP Rankings points. Although the Russian has never needed extra motivation for a big match, it will surely be a welcome added incentive.
Source: Tennis – ATP World Tour