Russia’s Andrey Rublev has finally emerged from the shadows of his countryman Daniil Medvedev to reach his second ATP Masters 1000 final. Rublev recorded his first victory over his compatriot Medvedev in his fifth attempt at the Western & Southern Open. The fourth seed, who fell to Medvedev at the Australian Open in February, had not beaten the 12-time tour-level titlist in their previous four encounters. However, Rublev rallied in Ohio, coming from a set down to defeat Medvedev 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours and 22 minutes to enter the title clash. As a result, the 23-year-old improved their ATP head-2-head series 1-4.
The 23-year-old Russian reached his maiden Masters 1000 final in Monte-Carlo in April and will face third seed Alexander Zverev in the championship match as he bids to claim his first title at this level. “It gives me more confidence that I can compete against him. There are still so many things to improve, but It’s like you pass university and they give you a diploma,” Andrey Rublev said about getting his first win against the World No.2.
“Even when I was 2-6 down, the score should not have been like this because the points were so tight,” Rublev said in his on-court interview. “The match was so intense, so many long rallies, super tough, super physical, super mental. A lot like a chess match. Medvedev is one of those players who won’t give you a chance to attack, but if I have enough power and chose the right moment, I have to be the one to make him run. In the end, I was trying to find the perfect moment to start being more aggressive to open the angles.”
Famously in 2019, Andrey Rublev enjoyed a memorable moment in Cincinnati, defeating Roger Federer en route to the quarterfinals. His progress has been steady over the years. In 2021, the eight-time tour-level titlist helped guide Russia to the ATP Cup title alongside Medvedev in February, and lifted the Rotterdam trophy in March.
In a lively start, Medvedev gained an early break. In the first set, he sat deep behind the baseline and was in good touch while dictating the play. The 25-year-old continuously frustrated Rublev, who committed 18 unforced errors in the first set, with his game play as Medvedev moved ahead.
After colliding with a cameraman at 1-1 in the second set, Medvedev recovered. In a gruelling eighth game, Rublev converted his fifth break point before holding serve to claim his first-ever set against Medvedev and force a decider.
The third set was a tightly-fought contest. Both players were strong on serve in the decider until the seventh game, when three errors from Medvedev handed Andrey Rublev a crucial break of serve. The World No. 7, who won 73 per cent (44/60) of his first-service points, then held his nerve to clinch the set and the match.
Earlier, Zverev defeated Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 to reach the final. “After the first break [to get to 2-4] I thought I had a chance and I felt he wasn’t serving bombs and that I was in the rallies,” Zverev said on court after the win. “It was a little bit of the mentality that I had against Novak at the Olympics.”