Rublev reaches Madrid Open final

RUSSIAN Andrey Rublev showed just how quickly one can turn around their form by reaching the final of the 2024 Madrid Open. After having a forgettable run of first-up losses across the last three tournaments and winning just one of his past four matches dating back to Indian Wells, Rublev is now one win away from his second Masters 1000 title.

The seventh seed and world number eight bested his American opponent Taylor Fritz in a tight two-set match, getting up 6-4 6-3 to reach his fifth Masters 1000 final. He has a 1-3 record in those, but will be favourite on the Spanish clay, going up against surprise packet Felix Auger-Aliassime.

In this win over Fritz, Rublev’s forehand and serve combination was unstoppable, as he crushed the American in just 72 minutes on Manolo Santana Stadium. Rublev won 83 per cent of his first serve points (38 of 46), and broke his opponent three times to one during the match. Though Fritz served more aces (7-5) and less double faults (0-3), Rublev’s far higher first serve percentage (75-55) proved the difference.

“Mentally I was feeling much better and I was able to perform,” Rublev said post-match. “Putting emotions in the right direction. For sure it has helped me to reach the final. Without this, I would not be in the final.”

Rublev broke to love in the last game of the first set, and then held on bravely against break points early in the second, to then go on and break Fritz in the sixth game for the only break of that set. The Russian moved his win-loss record to 10-3 in Madrid, but broke through for his first semi-final and now final at the event.

“I started really tight. I missed a couple of returns, a couple of easy shots, but it is part of sport and part of tennis,” Rublev said. “When he broke me, I thought, ‘OK, it is only the beginning, we have a long set and we will see. Maybe he will also not start well on his serve’.

“In the end, I think in the first three points he didn’t hit a first serve, so I was able to win and it was 0/30. On one break point I played well, and somehow it was 1-1. Then the match was equal until the end of the set.”

Rublev will take on Auger-Aliassime who won via retirement from Jiri Lehecka in the other semi-final. Somehow, three of Auger-Aliassime’s six matches at Madrid have ended without finishing the match, with the Canadian also having a 6-1 1-0 win over another Czech in Jakub Mensik and then the walkover against top seed Jannik Sinner.

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