APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

Rublev v Auger-Aliassime: Final preview

When Andrey Rublev and Felix Auger-Aliassime square off on a tennis court, one can always expect a gruelling tug of war will unfold.

Their most recent meeting was a two-hour 33-minute duel in the round of 16 in Rotterdam last February, in which Auger-Aliassime held three consecutive match points late in the deciding set before Rublev rallied back to claim a 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-5 victory over the Canadian.

The head-to-head record is skewed 4-1 in Rublev’s favour, but four of their five encounters have gone the distance, and Sunday’s Mutua Madrid Open final promises to be yet another thriller in the power-hitting Andrey v Felix series.

“All our matches that we played was always drama, always three-sets matches. Very close. The last one we played Rotterdam, I don’t know how many match points I saved,” said Rublev ahead of the final.

Auger-Aliassime echoed Rublev’s sentiments and is aware of the challenge ahead of him.

“Hopefully it can go my way this time. He’s always a player that fights hard, that’s always present every tournament, us players have highs and lows but he’s always there, and I think we see him again in a big final like this and he really deserves it,” said the 23-year-old.

Rublev is into the fifth Masters 1000 final of his career, seeking a second trophy at this level, having triumphed in Monte Carlo last season. The 26-year-old Dubai resident is 15-9 overall in career finals, and could rise to No.6 in the world with victory over Auger-Aliassime on Sunday.

‘Tennis is smiling at me again’

Auger-Aliassime is through to the 15th final of his career but his first ever at a Masters 1000 tournament. He’s the first Canadian to reach a Masters 1000 final on clay, and just the third Canadian finalist at this level since the Masters 1000 series began in 1990.

Auger-Aliassime peaked at No.6 in the world back in 2022 but knee problems hampered his campaign last season and he arrived to Madrid this fortnight standing at No.35 in the rankings.

In his press conference on Friday, he spoke about what it’s been like receiving so much attention when he was a teenager and his journey towards his first Masters 1000 final.

“It’s an interesting process. Now I’m in a Masters final, but the sport goes fast. I think the world goes fast in general,” said Auger-Aliassime with a smile.

“I think we hype up really quick and we forget really quick, as well, when bad things happen.

“It’s almost like if you look in a life, like last year I had a bad year, right? But that’s one year in my career and in my life in general. But before that, every year was better and better. I wasn’t unhappy with how things were going for me. I finished, a year and a half ago, 6 in the world.

“Then, yeah, a terrible year last year. Now I’m climbing my way back and playing better and better. It’s great that I get a chance now to be in a final. I feel like I have stayed consistent with my desire to play and improve and not getting frustrated when times were getting tougher, and so I’m happy that life or tennis is smiling at me again.”

Serve making the difference for Andrey

Rublev entered the tournament on the back of a four-match losing streak but has played some near-flawless tennis en route to the final, dismissing world No.3 Carlos Alcaraz along the way.

His serve has been particularly impressive throughout this year’s Mutua Madrid Open. Rublev was broken just four times through five matches, has averaged almost 70%of first serves in, and won 97% of the points behind his first serve against Tallon Griekspoor in the round of 16, and 80% against Alcaraz in the quarter-finals.

In this 2024 season overall, Rublev is winning over 87% of his service games, which places him sixth on the leaderboard in that category.

Felix confident on the red dirt

This is Auger-Aliassime’s first final on clay since 2019 and the Canadian was quick to acknowledge that his fortnight in Madrid saw him get three retirements/walkovers in six matches.

Still, he has enough belief he can perform well on this surface, and is feeling confident ahead of Sunday’s showdown.

“Obviously we have to take into account this week is one of a kind. We have to be realistic of that. I’m not forgetting that. This is the reality,” he said.

“But still I feel like even two years ago when it was my best year, I had some good matches. Obviously, we remember the French Open with the match with Rafa (Nadal in 2022) that I think was a quality match I think on this surface.

“With Novak in Rome (in 2022), I had a quality match, as well. I was kind of losing those matches that were tight. But I always knew that from a young age I loved playing on the clay. It was never a problem to play on clay or to feel I was also a good player on clay.

“Further this year and further down in my career, I have all the reasons to believe that I can be in some finals on the clay and win some matches on this surface, as well.”

Auger-Aliassime has returned to the top 20 by virtue of making the final and could move up to No.17 with a win over Rublev on Sunday.