APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

Rublev survives a scare

The second match on the Manolo Santana Centre Court was one of the ATP clashes of the day. Andrey Rublev and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina were vying for a place in round three of the 2024 Mutua Madrid Open.

Rublev arrived in Madrid after a run of four straight defeats. Two days ago he managed to relieve the pressure by claiming a win that will surely have worked wonders for his confidence. For his part, Davidovich touched down in the Spanish capital intent on at least equalling his fourth-round finish here twelve months ago, his best finish in the Caja Mágica.

Shortly after stamping his authority with a hard-fought 7-6 (10), 6-4 victory, Rublev spoke to the press. Today’s victor had not strung together two wins for a number of months, and was happy to do so in the Caja Mágica. “I think I’m playing well, I’m particularly happy because of how I’m adapting to the altitude, which isn’t easy and there’s more risk when you hit the ball and I think, despite all of that, I’m still playing at a good level. Today was a good match and we had some quality, fast-paced rallies.

The two had met on court three times with Rublev coming out on top on each occasion. Two of those encounters were on clay. The most recent of them came last year in Rome when the No. 8 in the world won 7-6, 6-3.

As the two players took to the court, the match progressed in a similar vein to their previous encounters. It was a very tight affair, with both players dominating on their serve. With neither player even earning themselves a break point, the first set ended up in an inevitable tiebreak. There, Davidovich looked like he would take first blood, but Rublev had other ideas and managed to turn the situation around. “At 5-0, honestly, I’d give up on the first set, it was quite dramatic and I tried to end the set with the best attitude. On the next points I freed up a bit and managed to gain ground on him, little by little. I didn’t think I could turn it around, but in the end I managed it”.

Now, with the first set in the bag, it was a much more straightforward affair for the 24-year-old player. “The tiebreak had a big effect on the second set. Alejandro was a bit dejected after losing the first and my morale was high. I felt much more confident and freer”. However, there was still nothing between them until a single break at four games apiece tipped the balance in his favour.

After the match, both players recognised that it was a great battle they had just endured. The stunning encounter was punctuated with an affectionate hug at the net. “Our matches have always been very dramatic and I felt for him. Every time we’ve played, I’ve been losing at some point or been set points down, just like today, and I’ve always managed to turn it around. I know what that feels like, that’s why the hug was so affectionate”, explained Rublev.

In the next round he will face Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor, who has also come through two very tough matches. On Tuesday the Caja Mágica will witness the first match on clay between the two players.