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 way 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 court docket and a work ethic that makes many different gamers look lazy, Rublev has additionally overwhelmed 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 in regards to the artist Andrei Rublev?

I do know that he was one of many biggest painters in church buildings. I’ve essentially the most well-known icon in my dwelling. They name it the best trio. We preserve 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, but it surely took one other six years so that you can win a foremost draw match there. What occurred?

My degree was not ok on the whole. I wanted to boost my sport to compete towards nice gamers. And then once I grew to become Top 30 on the earth I used to be injured and never capable of play Roland Garros for 2 years. Only final yr was I capable of play.

Andrey Rublev defeated Rafael Nadal of their quarterfinal match in Monte Carlo in April.Credit…Sebastien Nogier/EPA, through Shutterstock

A number of gamers have mentioned that you just work more durable than anyone else on tour and that you just’ve been doing that ever because you have been a little one. Is that true?

I don’t know, to be sincere. Everything is private. Maybe for one more participant the issues that I’m doing is just not 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 at first, and it makes me snug. I don’t know another means.

As a little one, you threw a lot of mood tantrums on court docket. Did you actually eat crimson clay from the court docket?

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 little one?

Yes, a couple of instances.

Tennis may be a lonely sport, particularly through the pandemic when you find yourself allowed to go solely from the lodge to the courts and again.

Yes, but it surely is determined by which facet 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 enjoying, 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’m going on the court docket, 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 rigidity. I’m very open. I’m human, and I really feel tight generally. But, in the long run, I wish to win, and I’m going to do my finest to do this.