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Rublev: Blown Match Point Great Lesson

By Richard Pagliaro

Andrey Rublev turned tiebreak to heartbreak today.

A resourceful Rublev rallied from 2-5 in the third set tiebreaker and held a match point serving at 6-5 in his ATP Finals battle vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas.

More: Thiem Edges Nadal in ATP Finals Thriller

That's when screaming legs, lungs and paralyzing pressure conspired to spook Rublev.

The Russian decelerated and dumped his second double fault of the day into net squandering his match point moment.

Defending champion Tsitsipas pounced on that miscue fighting back for a 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(6) victory to keep his ATP Finals semifinal hopes alive and eliminate Rublev from semifinal contention.

Afterward, Rublev was philosophical about the fatal double fault.

"About double, it's not only about double," Rublev said. "In general, this kind of match are really painful, and doesn't matter if it was double or it was winner from him or mistake from me. In the end is the same. You lost the point."

The seventh-seeded Russian said he erred in not taking a time violation to fully catch his breath after a physical previous point, conceding he sensed he'd have to hit a second serve and face match-point pressure.

"Yeah, there, when the score was 5-all, we play long, long rally. It killed my breath," Rublev said. "I couldn't breathe for a while. The 25 seconds was not enough.

"It was my mistake that I did not take time violation, because I was thinking that it's going to be second serve. And it was my mistake. I should take time violation, take more 30 seconds to play the point."

Tennis Express

It's an agonizing loss for Rublev, who has won an ATP-best five titles this season, including knocking off Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the Hamburg final in September.

Still, the 23-year-old Rublev has tremendous upside. He's posted an impressive 40-10 record and hopes to learn and grow from the double fault self-sabotage.

"So now, I mean, we learn with our mistakes, so it's gonna give me a lot and it's great lesson, so we will see how I will use it in the future," Rublev said.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe