Andrey Rublev leads the new generation of Russian tennis - UBITENNIS
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Andrey Rublev leads the new generation of Russian tennis

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Andrey Rublev is one of the most talented players of the golden generation of Russian tennis, who is following in the footsteps of tennis legends Marat Safin, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Nikolay Davydenko.

 

Andrey Rublev, Danil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov are the first Russian trio to reach the top 20 since Safin, Kafelnikov and Youzhny in 2005.

Medvedev improved to his career-high of world number 5 after a dream 2019 season in which he reached his first Grand Slam final at the US Open and won two consecutive Masters 1000 tournaments in Cincinnati and Shanghai. Rublev won back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide in 2020 and enjoyed a career-high of number 14 in the ATP Ranking. Khachanov won his first Masters 1000 in Paris Bercy 2018 and reached the semifinal at the ATP Masters 1000 in Montreal at the ATP 500 in Beijing in 2019 and is ranked world number 15.

Rublev reflected on the success of Russian tennis in the past two season in an interview to Tennis Magazin and hopes that the new generation will be able to continue the glorious tradition.

Kafelnikov triumphed in two Grand Slam tournaments at the 1996 French Open and at the 1999 Australian Open. Safin won two Grand Slam titles at the US Open in 2000 beating Pete Sampras and at the Australian Open in 2005 defeating Lleyton Hewitt.

“At that time tennis was huge in Russia. Everyone knew Russia who Kafelnikov and Safin were. The time was incredible. I hope that one day we can raise Russian tennis back to this level”, said Rublev.

Rublev reached the round of 16 at last January’s Australian Open before losing to his close friend Alexander Zverev. With his titles Rublev won two consecutive titles in Doha and Adelaide becoming the first player on the ATP Tour since 2004 to win two consecutive titles in the first two weeks of the year. He started the year with 11-match win streak overall dating back to the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid last November.

“Maybe I was lucky, but I am very happy with my results. I still have a lot of potential for improvement. I want to make full use of this”, said Rublev.

Rublev started his career following the example of his mother Marina Marenko, who trained Anna Kournikova. Andrey’s father was a former professional boxer, who turned restaurateur. His sister Arina is also a tennis coach. Andrey is coached by former Spanish player Fernando Vicente. His heroes at the start of his career were Marat Safin, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic. Andrey’s hobbies include boxing, basketball and music. Outside tennis he practiced boxing and basketball and is a fan of Mike Tyson. He made his professional debut in 2015 at the age of 17 and played his first appearance at Grand Slam level at the 2015 US Open as a qualifier. He won his first ATP title in doubles at the 2015 Kremlin Cup. At the 2017 US Open Rublev beat Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets and David Goffin in the fourth round before losing to eventual champion Rafael Nadal in the quarter finals. Rublev finished runner-up to Hyeon Chung in the first edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

Rublev reached the final in Doha in January 2018 losing to Gael Monfils bu he was sidelined by a serious back injury.

“I was really disappointed. I did not even watch tennis. My fellow colleagues were playing and I was sitting on the sofa. I had no chance to do anything”.

In 2019 Rublev achieved his second win over a top 10 player by beating Dominic Thiem in the quarter finals in Hamburg. The Moscow player lost to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the final.

“It looked like that 2019 would be my worst year, but in the second half I turn around the season. 

Rublev achieved the biggest win of his career in Cincinnati when he beat Roger Federer in straight sets in the third round before losing to Danil Medvedev in the quarter final.

“I cannot think about winning a Grand Slam title, but I can play against top players. I was lucky to reach the quarter finals at the US Open. In 2019 I felt that I really deserved the result that I achieved. I reached the fourth round and this reflected my tennis level”.

At the US Open he beat Nick Kyrgios in straight sets to reach the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam tournament for the second time before losing to Matteo Berrettini in straight sets. Federer was impressed by the level of tennis reached by Rublev in Cincinnati.

“I think that Rublev will achieve something special in his career”, said Federer in Cincinnati.

Last September lost to Fabio Fognini in straight sets at the China Open in Beijing. On his 22nd birthday Andrey won his second ATP title at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow beating Adrian Mannarino in straight sets in the final.

 

“I am grateful to my parents did everything for me. They sacrified a lot of things to help my career. Tennis is a very expensive start. For them it was not easy, because they were not sure, that the plan would pay off”.

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Simona Halep makes a winning start to her Prague Open campaign

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Number 1 seed and last year’s Wimbledon champion Simona Halep edged past Polona Hercog 6-1 1-6 7-6 (7-3) in two and a half hours in the opening round of the Prague Open on her seventh match point after 2 hours and 31 minutes. Halep played her first match since claiming her 20th title in Dubai. 

 

Halep wasted six match points before claiming the win in the tie-break of the third set to secure his spot in the Round of 16. Halep won four points more than Hercog and saved five of the 11 break points he faced. 

Both players traded breaks in the second and third games of the opening set. Halep earned two consecutive breaks in the fourth and sixth games to win the first set 6-1, as Hercog made 12 unforced errors to only two winners. 

Hercog came back from a break down early in the second set to get three consecutive breaks and won the second set 6-1. 

Both players traded breaks in the fourth and fifth games of the decider. Halep earned another break to open up a 5-3 lead. Hercog broke back in the ninth game and saved six match points in the 10th and 12th games to set up a decisive tie-break. Halep claimed the tie-break 7-3. 

Before the five-month break Halep lost to Garbine Muguruza in the semifinal of the Australian Open and won the Dubai final. 

Last week’s Palermo semifinalist Camila Giorgi came back from one set down to beat Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk 4-6 6-2 7-6 (7-4) after 2 hours and 14 minutes. Giorgi converted six of her eight break points. 

Kostyuk earned the first break in the fourth game. Giorgi broke straight back in the fifth game. Both players traded breaks in the sixth and seventh games. Giorgi saved a break point in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Kostyuk broke for the third time in the 10th game to win the first set 6-4 after 44 minutes. 

Giorgi broke twice in a row to race out to a 4-0 lead, Kostyuk pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4, but Giorgi broke again in the seventh game to win the second set 6-2 in 31 minutes. 

Kostyuk broke serve in the third game of the decider to open up a 3-0 lead. Giorgi broke back to draw level to 3-3. In the eighth game the Italian star fended off another break. The set came down to the tie-break. Giorgi opened up a 4-2 lead. Both players traded mini-breaks. Giorgi earned two match points and converted her first chance to win the tie-break 7-4. 

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Petra Martic advances to the second round at the Prague Open

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Number 2 seed and Roland Garros quarter finalist Petra Martic edged past world number 101 Varvara Gracheva 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 after 1 hour and 50 minutes to advance to the second round at the Prague Open.

 

Martic earned the first break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Gracheva broke back at love to draw level to 5-5, as Martic was serving for the first set. Martic hit two dropshots to force a tie-break. The Croatian player won the tie-break 7-2, as Gacheva made five unforrced errors out of nine points. 

Martic needed a medical time-out between sets, but she converted her third break point at deuce to race out to a 3-0 lead with a series of dropshots and smashes. The world number 15 wasted three game points for a 4-1 lead. Gracheva broke back in the fifth game after four deuces. Martic brought up another break point with a drop-shot and converted his chance to take a 4-2 lead as Gracheva sent a forehand long. 

Martic dropped two more points on her serve and converted her first match point with a kick serve and a forehand.

“It was not an eay match, especially in the first set. Unfortunately I could not serve it out, but I am happy I brought my level up in the tie-break where it mattered. It’s definitely not ideal. I have some aches here and there, the body is still adjusting to matches and playing one after another, but I think it’s normal and I hope I can maintain it to last this tournament”, said Martic. 

Elise Mertens battled past Jasmine Paolini 7-5 4-6 6-3 after two hours and 41 minutes. In the first set Paolini missed two break points at 3-2 15-40 before dropping her serve in the next game at 15. The Italian player saved a set point at 4-5 and broke back to draw level to 5-5. Mertens broke again in the 11th game and served out the first set on her third set point to win the first set 7-5. 

Mertens went up a break to take a 3-1 lead, but Paolini broke back to draw level to 3-3. Paolini saved two game points in the 10th game before breaking serve to win the second set 6-4. Mertens earned an early break in the first game of the third set. In the next game Paolini missed two break-back points. 

Paolini broke back in the fourth game, but she dropped her serve in the fifth game after missing a game point for 3-2. Mertens held her service game after saving a break point to take a 4-2 lead. The Belgian player broke again in the eighth game at 15 at 5-3 and secured the win on the first match point. 

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Johanna Konta ‘Not Too Worried’ By Heart Scare At Top Seed Open

The world No.15 will undergo an EKG test after crashing out of the Lexington event on Monday.

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British No.1 Johanna Konta experienced a turbulent return to professional tennis at the Top Seed Open after suffering heart palpitations during her 6-4, 6-4, loss to unseeded Czech Marie Bouzkova in the first round on Monday.

 

Konta, who was seeded third in the tournament, sought medical attention following the first game of the match where she had her blood pressure taken. Despite the scare, she continued with the match but was unable to find a way to break down the game of her 23-year-old opponent. Konta managed to win only 39% of her second service points and failed to convert six out of her seven break point opportunities.

“My heart rate shoots up for no reason, we didn’t have a long point, I wasn’t gassing in any way in my lungs,” Konta commented on her health scare.
“It actually goes up and stays there so it makes me a bit lightheaded, I just needed to see the doctor and the physio.
“It was very high when they came out. I was having all the checks. I am as fit as a fiddle but it can happen. It took a while to settle down but then it did and I was able to concentrate on the tennis.”

This week was Konta’s first WTA tournament since the Monterrey Open in March. During the five-month break in the sport due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world No.15 only played in one exhibition event. Taking part in the Battle of the Brits where she won one match before getting knocked out of the tournament.

Commenting further on her heart palpitations, Konta said that she was ‘not too worried’ by it because she has experienced similar before. The 29-year-old is however going to have an EKG test to check.

“We don’t know why it happens, it’s been under stressful situations, in no stress situations. We just don’t know. It’s been sporadic,” she said.
It’s not ideal. I am going to have another EKG and see what protocols we can take. It’s probably not going to happen again for another year or something. I’m not too worried, no.”

There was better news on the opening day of the tournament for other top names in the draw. Second seed Aryna Sabalenka required almost two-and-a-half hours to edge out world No.80 Madison Brengle 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-2. The world No.11 at times struggled with her serve as she hit 11 double faults alongside eight aces.

“[Brengle] played really well, she moved really well,” wtatennis.com quoted Sabalenka as saying following the match. “It was tough. I just tried to stay in the game, tried to think clean, and fight to the end, like I usually did.”

Sabalenka could play Coco Gauff in the second round should the American rising star win her opening match.

Magda Linette dropped only five games during her 6-2, 6-3, win over Lauren Davis. The Polish sixth seed dropped her serve only once at the start of the match before dominating proceedings during her 83-minute encounter. Setting up a showdown with Jenifer Brady in the second round who crushed Heather Watson 6-2, 6-1.

Finally, eighth seed One Jabeur downed Caty McNally 6-2, 6-4.

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