Rublev had a successful start to the tournament in Hamburg

Rublev had a successful start to the tournament in Hamburg

Andrei warmed up on the German clay in a match against a fellow tennis player who replaced Alexander Bublik, who withdrew

Last week Andrey Rublev returned to the tour after a short vacation and played on a clay tournament in Sweden. Russia’s second-seeded player lost in the semifinals to a runner-up from the top four and went to Hamburg, Germany. This start is bigger than in Bostad – here you can earn 500 points for winning. Hamburg also has a clay surface, which is interesting – the hard court part of the season is ahead and the clay seems to be a thing of the past. Rublev faced Alexander Bublik in the first round, who recently reached the grass-court final in Newport. But the Kazakh athlete decided to withdraw, so instead of him Andrei’s rival was Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania.

Rublev was just gaining form after a short break in Bostad and probably that is why he lost in the semi-final to little-known Sebastian Baez. But now it was unlikely that he would expect a hard match – the Lithuanian is not particularly fond of clay, he needs something quicker, so the game with Bublik would have been more interesting. But sometimes things don’t work out the way you expect them to. Yet the score between Berankis and Rublev is not that winning, 2-1 in favor of the Russian. True, the Lithuanian won back in 2014, but not once after that.

Three games were enough for Andrei to warm up the match: during his second serve Rikardas first allowed the Russian to equalize, then he took the lead because of Rublev’s error, but at the end he gave three misses – all the time he sent the ball into the net. After that, he had a few more plus/minus games on Andrei’s serve, but he did not break the tiebreaks. Berankis was serving better, but again he could not break his serve. The Russian won the game confidently, although he felt he had to work hard sometimes, so it was a tennis match, not a workout. Ricardas made more mistakes on the point play – he did not have any critical situations on his serves, except on the break. And in one of the games he missed three break points at once.

An unexpected obstacle from Berankis

The second game started with a break in Rublev’s favor, with no really intense situations – Andrei received one volley, placed the ball well on the court and forced Berankis to make a mistake. Then he closed the game on his serve to nil. But this was followed by an unexpected break – both players made mistakes, but after a series of successful backhand throws Ricardas got his break. Rublev, fortunately for the supporters, recovered quickly as the Lithuanian started the next game on his serve with a double, and the Russian quickly nailed it.

The Lithuanian played well in the middle of the second game and could have fought for a set, and maybe for the match, but he lacked experience or love for the ground. Or maybe Rublev was just stronger. Twelve aces, three break points out of eight and two double faults were not ideal, especially in the break points, but not bad. It all came down to just over an hour-long match. Next up for the Russian will be Francisco Serundolo of Argentina who just defeated Sebastian Baez in Bostad, Andrei’s opponent in the semi-finals.

The day before Rublev played in a doubles match with his compatriot Karen Khachanov our tennis players defeated the Italians Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolleli in three sets. However, the Russians lost the first game, so they had to pick up the pace. Tomorrow Rublev and Khachanov will play against Marcel Granollers and Argentina’s Horacio Ceballos in a doubles quarterfinal. Interestingly, both Khachanov and Rublev’s next singles matches are also scheduled for Thursday. Aslan Karatsev, who had beaten Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia earlier, will join them on the same day – both players were accused by the German media of rigged matches. But the Russian was in better psychological condition.