It was a high-octane clash in the Manolo Santana Stadium between two top-10 players, world numbers five Stefanos Tsitsipas and eight Andrey Rublev. The Greek, runner-up in 2019 when he lost to Novak Djokovic in two sets, arrived in Madrid after a successful start to the clay swing (champion in Monte Carlo and quarter-finalist in Barcelona) and as one of the players with the most wins in 2022. In his previous matches at this year’s Mutua Madrid Open, Tsitsipas saw off Frenchman Lucas Pouille and Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, winning both matches two sets to love.
For his part, the Russian Andrey Rublev found himself in the quarter-finals happy to have gone further at this competition than he had ever done before, surpassing the last sixteen he managed in 2021. He was crowned champion on the clay of Belgrade, where he beat Novak Djokovic in the final on his home turf, a feat that gave the Russian a confidence boost coming into this Mutua Madrid Open, where he won two very tough clashes with young British player Jack Draper and his compatriot Daniel Evans.
In the first set, Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas was playing some very aggressive tennis. He broke his opponent on the first time of asking and it eventually proved enough for him to win the set. The game seemed to unsettle an Andrey Rublev who looked visibly frustrated and would slam his racket into the ground on several occasions. From there, both players served solidly and neither had a break point to defend. The set finished 3-6 in the Greek’s favour.
Rublev was far more aggressive early in the second set, something that nearly cost him dearly when he had to save two break points in the first game. However, the strategy would eventually pay dividends as in the sixth game it was the Russian who broke to take a 4-2 lead. He repeated the feat two games later, breaking the Greek’s serve once more to take the second set 6-2.
The decider was a mirror image of what preceded it. It was Tsitsipas who came out all guns blazing, determined to seal his passage to the semi-finals, resorting to a change of mentality he says he has been working hard on. “I feel relaxed, I don’t feel tension when I play, it’s something I work on. It’s something that comes with work, with my daily routine”.
Rublev looked unsure on his serve and, having let a chance slip in game seven, Tsitsipas would eventually earn a break in the ninth with a game to love. The Greek would then have to face two break points before closing the match out 3-6, 6-2, 4-6. “I knew it might tip in my favour. I tried to convince myself that I’m a fighter, to play better and get the best out of myself out there. I had to be very aware of the fact that I could win and my thoughts became a reality”, said the Greek of the end of the match.
Tomorrow, Stefanos Tsitsipas will be bidding for a place in Sunday’s grand finale in his semi-final against the winner of the match between Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alexander Zverev, the defending champion.