APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

‘Calm’ approach key to Vicente guiding Rublev to best form

After his first match at the Caja Magica this fortnight, Andrey Rublev joked that his goal for the season was to “win more than one match”.

The No.7 seed arrived in Madrid carrying a four-match losing streak, winless over a stretch of six weeks.

“In tennis the good thing is that one week can change everything, so somehow you have to keep remembering this,” he said after his opening-round victory over Facundo Bagnis last Friday.

That statement proved to be prophetic as Rublev went on to produce one brilliant performance after the other to storm into the Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals, where he takes on American No.12 seed Taylor Fritz on Friday.

Rublev and his camp were not too worried when he lost his openers in Miami, Monte Carlo and Barcelona. The 26-year-old had started the season by winning eight matches in a row, picking up a title in Hong Kong and marching to the Australian Open quarter-finals. If they were going to accept the highs, they knew they also had to accept the lows.

“If you want to put everything in a crazy situation, you can go that way. But me, I’m really calm, I understand that it’s part of the process, it happens to many players. Luckily, we are not injured, so if you work, at the end, the work will pay off,” Rublev’s coach of eight years, Fernando Vicente told mutuamadridopen.com on Wednesday.

“Mentally, Andrey is a bit up and down. When you think you improve mentally or you are doing well, then somehow comes these six weeks and it looks a bit dramatic.

“We try to talk, be honest, we don’t lie, and we’re there just supporting.”

Coaching an emotional player like Rublev can be a roller coaster ride but Vicente has built a strong connection with his protégé, one that is built on honesty.

Rublev is a thoughtful individual, who carries his heart on his sleeve, and literally wears his mantras on his clothes. Earlier this tournament, he was donning a sweatshirt from his ‘Rublo’ brand that had the words, ‘Fear is your friend’, printed on the front.

“I think everyone has fears and it’s normal and if you try to hide and to say no, it’s b******, because in the end everyone is nervous, everyone is feeling fears, it doesn’t matter in life or in sport,” explained Rublev.

“When something is important to you, it’s normal to be nervous and to be afraid of something. That’s why it’s normal and it should be your friend.”

Asked what his biggest fear was, Rublev gives a simple one-word answer: “Time.”

Urged to elaborate he added: “Time, I think. It’s passing so fast, that’s the fear.”

A statistic that has followed Rublev around for a while now is the fact he has lost all 10 quarter-finals he has reached at the Grand Slams, most recently in Melbourne to eventual champion Jannik Sinner.

Vicente is helping Rublev keep things in perspective and not treat this stat as a bigger deal than it really is.

“He proved that he can be there for many years now, four years in the top 10,” said Vicente.

“But of course something happens when you reach the quarter-finals in Grand Slams and he feels that he’s not enough. That’s all. He needs to keep improving, control himself like he did today (against Alcaraz) in a tough match against a top player.

“Always when you’re not jumping one line, you overthink. But Andrey, I think, lost two good opportunities (in Slam quarter-finals). All the rest, the other players they played much better than him and he was not good or ready enough, physically and mentally.

“We are trying to reach again this kind of level, to be ready. Behaving like today and trying to understand – today is a good day to understand many things. It’s a good day to talk. We have a day off. We don’t really need to be crazy happy.”

Rublev surprised himself with how well he controlled his emotions throughout the win over Alcaraz on Wednesday, and later revealed he was trying to save all his energy for the tennis, given he was feeling tired.

“I think when you play with the top players, you respect a bit more,” said Vicente, reflecting on Rublev’s demeanour during his three-set win against Alcaraz.

“You don’t overthink, just only thinking, ‘I have to win, I have to win, I cannot lose’. So this is the first thing.

“And also you play in Madrid so you need to try to be calm, because if you start to behave badly the crowd is going to jump all over you.

“He wasn’t feeling good the last two days, I mean in a healthy way. He tried to get all the energy to be only focused on what to do. I’m really happy for the win. But they are top players and they want to keep winning more.”

On Friday, Rublev takes a 2-4 head-to-head record in tour-level matches against Fritz entering their clash on Friday, where he will attempt to reach the fifth Masters 1000 final of his career.