From the start of the 2020 ATP Tour season, Andrey Rublev has achieved consistent success.

The Russian, who leads the ATP Tour this year in titles won (5) and tour-level match wins (40), has booked his place at the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time with confident performances. Rublev has won titles indoors, outdoors, on clay and on hard. But that does not mean the World No. 8 is not nervous about his debut appearance at The O2 this year.

“Of course, I am feeling nervous. It is my first time,” said Rublev. “You are with all the best players here and of course, you feel nervous. This is a normal thing because we are all humans… This is the moment we are playing for and we are working for.”

Rublev started the year by becoming the first player since Dominik Hrabty in 2004 to win back-to-back titles in the opening two weeks of the season (Doha, Adelaide). The Moscow-native began the year with 11 consecutive wins and continued to raise his game after the ATP Tour suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The seven-time ATP Tour titlist has won three ATP 500 titles since the ATP Tour’s August restart and reached back-to-back Grand Slam quarter-finals at the US Open and Roland Garros. All those experiences have left Rublev feeling a sense of gratitude. The 23-year-old took a moment to pay tribute to his support network ahead of his first match at the elite eight-man event.

“I am really grateful for everything that I am [experiencing], for everything that I have been through,” said Rublev. “I am really grateful for the team that I have [and] for the friends that are around me because they support me a lot. We have the same vision [and] they give me a lot of energy so, in the end, I am where I am today because of them.

“I have been working really hard. With all the support around me, it gives me double [the] energy and double [the] motivation. I am not alone and when you are not alone, it is much easier and you are much stronger.”

After winning his fourth ATP Tour title of the season at the St. Petersburg Open, Rublev voiced his opinion on whom he believed to be the best athlete in history. His answer was Rafael Nadal.

When the draw for the tournament was made on Thursday, Rublev was placed in Group London 2020 alongside the 20-time Grand Slam champion. The Russian is looking forward to testing his game against Nadal on Sunday evening, when the pair will meet for the second time in their ATP Head2Head series. Nadal won their only previous encounter in the 2017 US Open quarter-finals./p>

“I am looking forward [to the match]. He is one of the best players in the history of tennis, so I have nothing to lose. I’ll go there to enjoy. All the pressure will be on him and in the end, we will see what is going to happen. I will try to do my best and we will see.”

Rublev will also meet US Open champion Dominic Thiem and reigning Nitto ATP Finals titlist Stefanos Tsitsipas in round robin action. The seventh seed owns 2-2 ATP Head2Head records against both of last year’s finalists.

“All of the matches are really tough. It is the best players in the world of tennis competing against each other. Every match is so tough, so interesting,” said Rublev. “I played with Dominic a couple of times [and] I played with Stefanos a couple of times. I won some matches against them [and] I lost some matches against them, so it is going to be fun, it is going to be really interesting.”

Two of the past three editions of the event have been won by tournament debutants (Dimitrov, Tsitsipas). With form on his side, Rublev will be hoping he can continue that trend at The O2. The first edition of the event to be held in London in 2009 was won by a Russian (Davydenko), so why not the last?

Source: Tennis – ATP World Tour