Grand Slam and Masters 1000 breakthrough needed for Andrey Rublev after ATP 500 dominance
Very few players have been quite able to play as well as Andrey Rublev has since the beginning of 2020, with the Russian excelling both before and after the Covid-19 enforced break.
Rublev won two titles in 2020 prior to the five-month suspension of ATP action caused by the pandemic, and has won another four titles since the Tour resumed in August last year.
The 23-year-old has also reached the last eight at all three Grand Slam events since the resumption of the Tour, and there is little doubt that he is in career-best form after struggling badly with injury a couple of years ago.
The world No 8 has now won 20 straight matches at ATP 500 events – a run only bettered by Andy Murray and Roger Federer.
The ‘Rublev-olution 500’ Tour continues 🎸
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 7, 2021
He has also proven dominant against players he should be beating on paper, winning 31 of his last 32 matches against players outside the top 10, though his challenge now is to start bringing that level of success to the biggest events.
The Russian has reached the quarter-final of his last three Grand Slams and has reached four major quarter-finals in his career, though has not won a set in any of those matches and is also yet to reach the semi-final of an ATP Masters 1000 event.
Two of those recent quarter-final losses have come to Daniil Medvedev, who is one of only two men – alongside Novak Djokovic – to pick up more wins than Rublev since the restart, though these are the type of opponents he will need to beat if he wants to progress further.
Of course, the impact of Covid-19 must be taken into account. There were only three ATP Masters 1000 events last year due to widespread disruption on the Tour, meaning there were fewer opportunities for a breakthrough.
However Rublev did not make the last eight at any of those events, but will be looking for a stronger showing at the Miami Open towards the end of March.
The ATP Tour is also more likely to be more complete this year meaning that there will be opportunities at the Masters 1000 events whilst the Grand Slams may also have a greater sense of normality, providing Rublev with further opportunities to break through on the bigger stages.
He will certainly need to raise his level to challenge and beat the likes of Medvedev, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal who will likely stand in his way, though the fact that there will likely be more opportunities to compete at these events in 2021 may provide the experience he needs.
Rublev was hyped up greatly as a junior and there is no doubt that he has the potential to improve on his current ranking of eighth and win big titles, perhaps even picking up a Slam or two.
To do that though, he’ll need to start bringing that level of tennis and start picking up big wins at the biggest events this season.
Follow Oli Jefford on Twitter @odicksonjefford.
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