This Andrey Rublev Is a Master With a Racket

Andrey Rublev of Russia is acquainted with his eponym, the 15th-century artist answerable for the Trinity icon. The two Rublevs have one thing in frequent — they’ve created masterpieces.

Though simply 23, Rublev has risen from exterior the world’s Top 20 final January to a career-high No. 7 heading into the French Open, which begins Sunday with the principle draw and runs by means of June 13. Despite the curtailed season in 2020, he received an ATP Tour-leading 5 titles. Since the start of final yr he has received 70 singles matches, greater than anybody else on tour.

Rublev received a match in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in March, the place he beat the previous No. 1 Andy Murray and the Australian Open semifinalist Stefanos Tsitsipas; reached three semifinals, together with on the Miami Open; and upset Rafael Nadal en path to the ultimate in Monte Carlo. He additionally reached the quarterfinals on the Australian Open, and he and Daniil Medvedev led Russia to the World Team Cup in February.

Armed with a monstrous forehand that he can place anyplace on the courtroom and a work ethic that makes many different gamers look lazy, Rublev has additionally crushed Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem, final yr’s United States Open champion. He received the Roland Garros junior championship in 2014, and final yr reached the quarterfinals of the principle draw earlier than dropping to Tsitsipas.

The following dialog has been edited and condensed.

What have you learnt concerning the artist Andrei Rublev?

I do know that he was one of many best painters in church buildings. I’ve essentially the most well-known icon in my residence. They name it the best trio. We hold it in a non secular nook. Sometimes you set a little gentle to make it particular.

You received the Junior Championship on the French Open whenever you have been simply 16, however it took one other six years so that you can win a important draw match there. What occurred?

My stage was not adequate generally. I wanted to lift my recreation to compete towards nice gamers. And then after I grew to become Top 30 on the earth I used to be injured and never in a position to play Roland Garros for 2 years. Only final yr was I in a position to play.

A number of gamers have stated that you simply work tougher than anyone else on tour and that you simply’ve been doing that ever because you have been a youngster. Is that true?

I don’t know, to be trustworthy. Everything is private. Maybe for an additional participant the issues that I’m doing shouldn’t be going to suit. Maybe he’ll begin to really feel a lot worse or say, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” In my case it’s simply the way in which I used to be to start with, and it makes me comfy. I don’t know some other means.

As a youngster, you threw a lot of mood tantrums on courtroom. Did you actually eat purple clay from the courtroom?

I by no means ate it full, however, sure, I put it in my mouth. I simply spat it away or took water to scrub my mouth. I did some silly issues, for positive.

You additionally slept along with your racket as a youngster?

Yes, a couple of occasions.

Tennis might be a lonely sport, particularly throughout the pandemic when you’re allowed to go solely from the lodge to the courts and again.

Yes, however it will depend on which aspect you see it. I’ve been lonely, however I’m additionally a bit fortunate as a result of I’ve so many individuals round me for assist, and we’re taking a look at issues the identical means. They give me a lot of vitality. When I’m taking part in, I really feel that they’re with me, and it helps a lot.

You have had unusually strong outcomes towards top-10 gamers. You don’t worry them the way in which others do?

I’m afraid. And I’m OK to say it. When I am going on the courtroom, after all I’m afraid, particularly towards some Top-10 gamers. But I settle for this. I’m not going to say I don’t really feel stress. I’m very open. I’m human, and I really feel tight generally. But, ultimately, I need to win, and I’m going to do my finest to do this.

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