Andrey Rublev: "I don't expect anything from myself in Melbourne" - UBITENNIS
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Andrey Rublev: “I don’t expect anything from myself in Melbourne”

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Russian 22-year-old rising star Andrey Rublev started the 2020 season on a high note winning back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide. He beat French Next Gen player Corentin Moutet in the final of the Doha Qatar Exxon Mobil Open in the first week of the new year and repeated the feat by beating South African rising star Lloyd Harris in Adelaide.

 

Rublev has extended his winning streak to 12 matches, including 8 wins in the first two weeks of the 2020 season. He won the Doha title without dropping a set during the week. In Adelaide the Moscow native had to dig deep to beat Felix Auger Aliassime 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 in a hard-fought semifinal match. With the Doha-Adelaide double Rublev became the first player to win back-to-back titles in the first two weeks of the season since 2004, when Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty won two consecutive trophies in Adelaide and Auckland.

Rublev picked up where he left off in 2019, when he won the Kremlin Cup in his hometown Moscow beating Adrian Mannarino in the final and finished runner-up to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the Hamburg final. The player coached by Fernando Vicente scored the biggest win of his career when he beat Roger Federer in Cincinnati to reach his first Masters 1000 quarter final before losing to eventual champion Danil Medvedev. At the US Open he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios en route to reaching the fourth round at the US Open before losing to eventual semifinalist Matteo Berrettini.

“I was not thinking about this statistic, but it’s an amazing feeling. I am really happy. I hope I keep working. I hope I keep improving, and we’ll see what’s going to happen”, said Rublev.

Rublev will open his Australian Open campaign against local favourite Christopher O’Connell in the first round. The Russian player is projected to play against David Goffin in a potential third round match, Alexander Zverev in the fourth round and Danil Medvedev in the quarter final.

Rublev, who has never advanced from the third round at the Australian Open, has no expectations for the first Grand Slam of the season.

“I am not waiting anything from myself in Melbourne. The only thing is that I want to fight and I believe well on court in my first match. Then we will see. I don’t think  I am invincible, but for sure I am more confident in what I do after two titles in a row. I am working to be more consistent, to be more mentally strong. This is what we were working for and I am happy that these two weeks went this way. I got two titles. It’s amazing. I never had this before”, said Rublev.

 

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‘On This Surface I’m Only Inferior To Nadal’ – Pablo Carreno Busta Fires Warning at French Open

The world No.18 explains why he has very high expectations for Paris this year.

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Pablo Carreno Busta in action against Alexander Zverev during a men's singles Semifinal match at the 2020 US Open. (Photo by Simon Bruty/USTA)

Pablo Carreno Busta believes he has what it takes to pose a serious threat at this year’s French Open following his recent success in North America.

 

The world No.18 heads into Paris less than a month after reaching the semi-finals of the US Open for the second time in his career. Carreno Busta boasted a two-set lead over Alexander Zverev to close in on his first major final before the German fought back to clinch the match. Prior to the run, he also won the men’s doubles title at the Western and Southern Open alongside Alex de Minaur.

Taking to the court at Roland Garros on Monday, Carreno Busta eased to a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5, win over Australia’s John Milman in the first round. Producing 34 winners and breaking his opponent eight times en route to the win in the night-time encounter. Speaking to reporters afterwards, the 17th seed believes he has what it takes to go deep in the draw.

“I have a very high level, on this surface I am not inferior to anyone, except perhaps Rafa,” EFE quoted Carreno Busta as saying.
“If I am one hundred percent and I am brave and aggressive I am dangerous and it is not easy for them (other players) to beat me. It is what I have to try to do.”

It was at Roland Garros where the 29-year-old made his Grand Slam debut back in 2013. Since then his best run in the tournament was to the quarter-finals in 2017. Overall, Carreno Busta has won 11 out of 18 main draw matches played but has only managed to progress to the second week once in his seven previous attempts.

The next test for the Spaniard will be Argentina’s Guido Pella, who defeated Italy’s Salvatore Caruso 7-6(6), 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-4, in his opening match. Pella achieved a ranking high of 20th last year and his only title was on the clay was in Sao Paulo.

“It will be a very difficult game, perhaps more than today (Monday),” he previewed.
“I have to face the game the same, be solid and aggressive. It will be long, but I have played matches like that.”

Regardless of what happens over the coming days, Carreno Busta says he is happy to be playing once again following the break. The ATP Tour was stopped for five months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Which is why the French Open is taking place later than usual in trickier conditions due to the cooler weather.

“It has been a very complicated year for all of us, there were moments when we did not know if we were going to be able to play. The important thing is that we are playing,” he states.

Carreno Busta is one of three Spanish players to be seeded in the men’s draw this year along with Nadal (2) and Roberto Bautista Agut (10).

Carreno Busta’s French Open record

2013 – R1
2014 – R1
2015 – R2
2016 – R2
2017 – QF
2018 – R3
2019 – R3

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Felix Auger-Aliassime Blasts Own Performance After French Open Misery

The Canadian says he didn’t play good enough in what was his main draw debut at the event.

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Rising star Felix Auger-Aliassime said he failed to ‘step up’ after crashing out in the first round of the French Open.

 

The 19th seed struggled to find a range throughout his 7-5, 6-3, 6-3, loss to Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in what was his first ever main draw appearance at Roland Garros at the age of 20. A below-par Auger-Aliassime produced six double faults and hit 58 unforced errors During what was a frustrating encounter. The Canadian also had 13 chances to break the Nishioka serve but only managed to convert twice.

“He played good. Also, I wasn’t good, and I could have been better on many of those opportunities,” the world No.22 said after the match.
“I give him credit and I take responsibility for that because I just felt like there were too many times where I just didn’t step up and played a decent point.”

Trying to find an explanation for his latest defeat on the Tour, Auger-Aliassime admits that he is unable to provide a specific reason. It is his fourth first round loss at a Grand Slam.

“The issue wasn’t technically. The issue could have been mentally, tactically,” he reflected.
“You always see what you could do better but when you’re in the moment you try your best. You try to win, but sometimes it’s not enough, you’re not good enough on the day.’
“Now it’s past me and I’ve got to accept that. It’s not easy. It’s tough. I felt like today I was just not playing good enough.”

Monday’s loss caps off what has been a somewhat disappointing clay court swing for the Next Gen star. Since reaching the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time at the US Open, Auger-Aliassime has only won one match in three tournaments played on the clay. Doing so at the German Open against Lorenzo Sonego.

“I had some good moments last clay-court tournaments in juniors, challengers, etc. This year there have been three tournaments, three complicated tournaments for me,” he said.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve played on clay, I haven’t had time to adjust and train.
“I could have done better, there was no reason. It’s obvious to everyone and myself that I haven’t been able to adapt and do what it takes to play better and win matches.”

Auger-Aliassime is the youngest player currently ranked inside the top 50 on the ATP Tour. The French Open was only his sixth appearance in a Grand Slam main draw.

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Marin Cilic Undeterred By French Open Loss But Wary Of The Next Generation

The former Grand Slam winner was in a reflective mood following his exit from Roland Garros.

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Despite a brief stay at this year’s French Open an upbeat Marin Cilic believes there are more positives than negatives when it comes to his current form.

 

The former top 10 player crashed out in the first round on Monday to recently crowned US Open champion Dominic Thiem. The showdown saw the Austrian prevail in straight sets to hand Cilic his earliest loss in the tournament since 2016. A bitter pill to swallow for a player who reached back-to-back quarter-finals in 2017 and 2018.

Although Cilic, who turned 32 on Monday, believes there is a silver lining to his latest match and he has ironically gained some confidence. It is the second time he has lost to Thiem in as many months after also doing so in New York.

“I feel that I’m not playing too bad. I’m feeling that I’m playing quite good,” Cilic told reporters.
“The match I played against Dominic at the US Open, the last two sets were really high quality. I was not far from extending it to a fifth set.’
“Here (at Roland Garros) I felt that I played still quite well considering it’s the first round, obviously I was gonna be a bit rusty but I felt I played quite solid.”

Whilst there are positives, questions are starting to mount about if Cilic has what it takes to once again be a contender at the major tournaments. He is currently ranked 40th in the world and was last inside the top 10 in February 2019. Furthermore, it has been more than two years since he won an ATP title with his last triumph occurring on the grass at the Queen’s Club.

It isn’t just the Big Three that is posing a threat, it is also the resurgence of the Next Generation of players. Both Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev have reached a major final and Stefanos Tsitsipas is a former semi-finalist. All of those players are under the age of 25.

“In the last 12 months you can see that these youngsters, there are so many. I was looking the other day to see how many under the age of 25 there are in the top 50 and there are 18,” Cilic said.
“You have that great generation that came up (the ranks) and are getting more experience. They are playing better and better. Seeing possibilities with their game that they can go forward in these tournaments.”

Whilst in the larger view the Big Three remain the dominant forces on men’s tennis, Cilic believes a shift in power is starting to gradually happen. Which he admits is going to hinder his own chances of winning titles again in the future.

It is definitely becoming tougher to win these kinds of tournaments and you have to at the top of your game to win a grand slam,” he concluded.

Cilic’s win-loss record for the season now stands at 12-8.

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