In a much awaited confrontation between two friends, second-seed Andrey Rublev secured a clinical win 6-2, 6-3 against Alexander Zverev. With this victory, Rublev clinched a spot in his second back-to-back semi-final at the Nordea Open in Båstad.
“I’m happy to be in the semifinals […] it’s always tough when you play your best friend, in the end it’s a bit weird because you wish the best for him, but it’s a part of the sport,” said Rublev on court after his stunning match. While Andrey was happy to have booked a spot in the semis, ahead of the game, he knew that playing against Sacha would be no easy feat. Before this quarter final, Zverev led 5-1 in their head-to-head. But in their last confrontation, it was Rublev who prevailed in Dubai. Since then, the world No. 7 also recorded his greatest victory on tour in Monte-Carlo, on clay last May. On the other side of the net, on Thursday former world No2 Sascha Zverev won an impressive second round against Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro (6-1 6-0).
In the first set, it was Rublev, the youngest of the two players, who took the lead with a break mid-set. In return, Zverev seemed to struggle to find the striking rhythm he had displayed the day before. He conceded a second break to his opponent with two frustrating double faults giving Rublev an opportunity to close the set on his own serve : 6-2.
On Andrey’s own admission, the game was a little closer than the numbers on the scoreboard. ‘I was lucky that Sascha missed a few shots in the second set, it could easily have gone the other way around’. With three more aces in the bag and all his break points saved, Rublev took the lead again in the second set and Zverev was unable to catch up.
After the match, Rublev was quick to point out how happy he was with his overall level compared to last year. Asked about the weather today, he added ‘The conditions were tough with the wind, and heavier balls but I am happy to have been able to adapt my game to them’. With a straight sets 6-2 6-3 win, Rublev punched his ticket for the semi-finals with a sigh of relief.
On Saturday, in the second semifinal, Andrey Rublev will face the defending champion Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina
Nordea Open Press Team