Ugo Humbert has proven himself Top-10 kryptonite during his career, but Andrey Rublev faced no such difficulty Sunday.
The World No. 7 eliminated the Frenchman 7-5, 6-3 to reach the Round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open. He will face 2021 champion Cameron Norrie for a place in the quarter-finals.
“Completely different, even if he’s left-handed as well, but he’s different. Cameron reminds me a bit of Medvedev to be honest,” Rublev said in his on-court interview. “He likes to play really low and flat with the backhand. He likes to counter-attack, wait for you to do mistakes, to force you to go for extra shots. So we’ll see. It’s going to be a really tough match and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Rublev will take a 2-1 ATP Head2Head lead into his clash with Norrie, as well as confidence from a solid performance against Humbert. The Frenchman, who is now 7-7 against Top 10 opposition, surged to an immediate break advantage.
But it was all Rublev from there. The sixth seed converted four of his six break chances to earn revenge for a loss against Humbert in the Halle final two years ago.
“He started really well. He broke me and I was thinking, ‘I don’t know, probably today is not my day.’ I was not feeling the ball really well in there beginning because the first match I played at night and it was completely different conditions today,” Rublev said. “But then I started to say, ‘Okay it’s not my day, he’s better and that’s it.’
“And somehow I made a few returns, I broke him back and then I started to feel confident. I started to play even better. I started to serve better and in the end, little by little, I was able to finish on a good level.”
Norrie had a tougher time in a 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-2 triumph over qualifier Taro Daniel, who led by a set and a break. The British lefty kept his hopes of a second Indian Wells title alive behind 11 aces and seven service breaks.
Norrie has plenty of momentum after winning the biggest clay-court title of his career at the ATP 500 in Rio de Janeiro, where he clawed past Carlos Alcaraz in the final.