Andrey Rublev fired up his forehand to forge an exhilarating turnaround against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday night in Turin, where the sixth seed clinched a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win to reach the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals.
In a winner-takes-all match to decide the second-place finisher in Red Group, Rublev withstood an early barrage from Tsitsipas to claim a milestone victory at the prestigious season finale. Although the Greek’s bright start had his opponent under pressure at the Pala Alpitour, Rublev continued to hit through his groundstrokes throughout the match to seal his 51st tour-level win of the season.
“I didn’t give up. I kept fighting and playing,” Rublev said. “I lost my emotions a bit when I lost a stupid game at 40/0 in the first set. I let my emotions go. But then I just kept fighting and playing and you will have chances. I thought I would have chances if I just gave my best. I managed to turn the match around and I am happy to be in the semis.”
The Marseille, Dubai, Belgrade and Gijon champion Rublev had lost his two prior ATP Head2Head clashes with Tsitsipas in 2022. Yet he displayed admirable resilience at key moments on Friday night in Turin, crashing 36 winners to seal a high-quality one-hour, 42-minute victory .
The 25-year-old Rublev, who had not progressed from the group stage in his two previous Nitto ATP Finals appearances, will meet third seed Casper Ruud in Saturday’s semi-finals.
“I am really looking forward [to the match] because Casper is such a nice person on and off the court,” Rublev said. “He is a great player, great fighter. He has achieved so many good things this season, so it is going to be a really good challenge for me. I hope I will do my best and I will see what happens.”
Prior to his first match at this year’s Nitto ATP Finals, Rublev had cast doubt on his chances of progressing from a group containing three former champions in Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic. “My first reaction [to the group] was not good,” Rublev had said. “I thought, ‘What am I doing here, in this group?’”
One week on and the 25-year-old has proven himself wrong after clinching thrilling three-set victories against Medvedev and Tsitsipas. Rublev’s ability to fire winners off both wings has been crucial, with his powerful game thriving in the fast-paced conditions in Turin.
This was clearly demonstrated in the third set against Tsitsipas. Rublev took charge of the pair’s crucial encounter by aggressively and accurately countering the Greek’s serve, which he broke twice. According to Tennis Data Innovation’s INSIGHTS Shot Quality analysis for the final set, he registered a Return Quality rating of 9.2 out of 10, a score 2.7 higher than the ATP Tour average.
Andrey Rublev: INSIGHTS Return Quality In The Third Set Vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas
Tsitsipas made a high-octane start to Friday’s clash and broke through on the Rublev serve in the fourth game as his one-handed backhand stood up impressively to a barrage of heavy-hitting from his opponent. That break proved enough to clinch a set in which the Greek dropped just two points behind serve.
Rublev continued to try and overpower Tsitsipas with his ferocious forehand, however, and the tactic paid off in the eighth game of the second set. He let out a roar after breaking Tsitsipas for 5-3, and the 25-year-old then dug deep to fend off a Tsitsipas break-back point, hold serve, and force a deciding set.
The momentum was with the sixth seed and Rublev rode it to victory in style in the decider, breaking Tsitsipas’ serve twice en route to an ultimately convincing win that improves his record against opponents ranked No.3 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings to 5-1.