Andrey Rublev booked a place in a first ATP Masters 1000 final on Saturday after he stopped Casper Ruud of Norway 6-3, 7-5 at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
There was no let down for the sixth-seeded Russian, a day on from his victory over 11-time former champion Rafael Nadal. Rublev improved to an ATP Tour-best 24-4 match record on the season by hitting 21 winners past Ruud for victory in 80 minutes at the Monte-Carlo Country Club.
“It is an amazing feeling. It is my first [ATP Masters 1000] final, so I am really happy,” Rublev said in his post-match interview. “We will see what is going to happen [in the final]. I will try to do my best.”
– Graphic courtesy Hawk-Eye Innovations/ATP Media
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The 23-year-old will now look to record his second straight win over fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final. Rublev beat the 22-year-old Greek 6-3, 7-6(2) last month en route to the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament title in Rotterdam. Their ATP Head2Head series is tied at 3-3, with two clay-court meetings (1-1) in 2020 at Roland Garros and the Hamburg European Open.
Earlier in the day, Tsitsipas swept past Briton Daniel Evans, who had knocked out World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the Monte-Carlo third round. Tsitsipas won 6-2, 6-1 in 69 minutes for a spot in his third ATP Masters 1000 title match (also 2018 Toronto and 2019 Madrid).
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Rublev was broken to love in the third game, but won 16 of the next 22 points to take a 5-2 lead in the first set and later completed the 32-minute opener with his ninth winner, a forehand down the line. The Russian continued to neutralise Ruud’s forehand with his own groundstroke game and earned a third service break at the start of the second set.
But Ruud, who beat 2019 champion Fabio Fognini on Friday, kept fighting by getting Rublev on the move behind the baseline. The Norwegian capitalised on a drop in intensity from the Russian to win four straight games for a 4-2 advantage. It triggered a reaction from Rublev, who broke in the seventh game and regained his first-service rhythm.
Rublev regained his composure after a 10-minute lapse and struck a backhand winner down the line to break Ruud for a 6-5 lead. Minutes later, the Russian sealed his place in a 11th ATP Tour final (8-2 record).
“Casper is a really amazing player, especially on clay,” Rublev said. “Since the beginning he put a really high intensity [on the court] and was really tough. I knew that I needed to raise my level if I wanted to fight against him, because if I [did] not raise the level I [would] lose for sure.
“He started [by going] up with the break and I felt like I needed to raise my level, raise my speed [and] hit harder. Otherwise, I had no chance. I started to do it and then I started to play better and he started to miss a bit more. I think that was the key.”
World No. 8 Rublev helped Russia capture the ATP Cup in February, prior to a quarter-final exit at the Australian Open (l. to Medvedev). Last year, he won six five trophies, including three ATP 500 events.
Ruud, 22, beat World No. 9 Diego Schwartzman and saved two match points against Pablo Carreno Busta prior to his victory over Fognini. He is now 10-4 on the 2021 season after his second Masters 1000 semi-final appearance (2020 Rome). Rublev is now 4-0 against Ruud in their ATP Head2Head series.