WATCH: Andrey Rublev ‘obliterates’ racket as his disastrous run of form continues

Kevin Palmer
Andrey Rublev lost his temper again
Andrey Rublev lost his temper again

Andrey Rublev’s disastrous run of results continued as he lost in the opening round at the Barcelona Open, with his temper boiling over once again as he went down against American Brandon Nakashima 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).

In another fractious performance from Rublev, his anger management issues raised their head once again as he smashed his racket violently after the final point of the match.

This latest defeat continued a miserable run of results for Rublev since he was disqualified from a tournament in Dubai following a heated exchange with a line judge.

The Russian star won his first match after that incident against Andy Murray at Indian Wells, but he has lost in his first match in Miami, Monte Carlo and now Barcelona.

“In Indian Wells, I was so focused on trying to control my movements that I was completely stuck. I had no more energy, I didn’t have the strength,” said Rublev.

“And in Miami, I exploded. I could no longer control myself, my actions, my nerves. I felt like I was paralyzed, I couldn’t move. Maybe what happened in Dubai stuck in my mind.”

It is clear that Rublev’s struggles to contain his emotions are having a huge impact on his mentality on court, with the 26-year-old openly admitting it is an issue he is battling to control.

Speaking to Tennis365 last December, Rublev spoke about the work he is doing with psychologists to help him deal with the pressures of ATP Tour matches after he had a high-profile meltdown and racket smash at last year’s ATP Finals in Turin.

“When I look at the video now it is embarrassing, it looks very bad,” he said.

“For me, it is tough to see those things as well, but everyone fails sometimes. That was my week when I couldn’t manage my emotions and I couldn’t manage the stress that I was having.

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“Sometimes I just want it so badly and I can’t handle the pressure during the matches. This is the truth.

“You have to be focused to win and sometimes I am full of negative emotions. I get tight, I can’t play properly and I have lost too many matches because of this.

“I know it is harder to win when I have these emotions, so I am working on it.”

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Rublev’s despair was contrasted by an impressive performance from a resurgent Nakashima.

The former world No 43 has seen his ranking collapse over the last couple of years and he spent the first months of this season playing in second-tier ATP Challenger events.

Now he is clambering back towards the top 50 of the ATP Rankings, with his win against Rublev taking Nakashima back into the top 80 of the live rankings.

“I’m still out here competing as hard as I can,” said 22-year-old Nakashima. “I’m happy with getting my level back to where it was. Playing in front of these crowds and on this court was super special.

“I served and returned well. I got myself a lot of opportunities on his serve and also was controlling a lot with my backhand crosscourt to his backhand.

“I was also mixing it up with some slices and drop shots. I think that’s very important.”