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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday June 28, 2021

 
Andrey Rublev

After his first-round win over Federico Delbonis, Tennis Now talked to Russian star Andrey Rublev about his grass game and more.

Photo Source: Getty

Russia’s Andrey Rublev is travelling under the radar at Wimbledon. The No.5 seed reached his first tour-level final on grass two weeks ago at Halle, and yet, most of the focus heading into Wimbledon has been on Novak Djokovic’s quest for the calendar Slam and Roger Federer’s return to the grass.

Tennis Express

Nobody really seems to consider any ATP NextGen players as a big threat to win the title, but Rublev has continued to rack up wins in 2021, and even if he isn’t among the favorites at Wimbledon, he’s clearly in line to make a career-best performance after his round one win (4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2) over Federico Delbonis on Day 1.

Rublev has yet to pass the second round at Wimbledon in his two previous appearances at SW19, but it seems he’s ready to make that step this year. If he wins two more matches, he could find himself going against 19-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic in the round of 16.


We caught up with the 23-year-old Russian after his victory today to get his feelings on the grass season and how he has been able to put a difficult first-round loss to Jan-Lennard Struff at Roland Garros behind him.

Tennis Now: It was a slow start against Delbonis today, but a strong finish. How did you feel out there today?

Andrey Rublev: "In the beginning I didn't know what to expect, especially because I never played Delbonis in my life, and the conditions - for both of us - were not easy in a way.

“I warmed up really early today at 10 AM—because I was supposed to play second—I warmed up on the Aorangi practice courts and the grass out there was completely wet, so the conditions were super fast during the warmup, and when I went on court with the stress and nerves that I felt before the match, I didn't feel very well and everything was slower than in the warmup, so it took time for me to be able to control my emotions and then as soon as I won the second set I started to feel that I was able to control my emotions, then I relaxed completely and I started to play better and better.

"In the end I finished on a good level, so we will see, I think this match, I needed a lot, especially after what happened in Paris, so now I'm feeling better and I got more release."

Tennis Now: You don’t have a ton of experience on the grass, but you seem pretty comfortable playing your game on it, would you say that’s the case?

Andrey Rublev: "I would say yes, I think my style of the game is suited for grass because of the way I play, I play aggressive, I try to play fast, so I think my style of the game is good for grass, but it's like I said: on grass sometimes you don't know what to expect, you can play a really good match but just because your opponent serves really well and he returns one lucky return maybe on an important point and he won the match, so here it sometimes can happen—two, three shots can change all the match, and normally on clay court or even on a hard court it's not really happening.

"I feel quite comfortable on grass, it's just these kinds of matches that one, two points can change the game, and on different surfaces it's not happening. Sometimes, maybe, you don't really need to play smart and you don't need to have tactics, here it is sometimes who takes the lead first, who hits in the right direction in the right moment.

“If you return hard even in the middle, sometimes it's more than enough, or even if you just hit the ball hard, doesn't matter right or left, sometimes it's more than enough, and normally on clay court if you play wrong directions or you don't return good enough or deep enough it costs you the point, on grass it's not about where to play - if you hit hard, sometimes it's more than enough, because it's really tough to control the ball here when someone is hitting hard."


Tennis Now: Was it tough to get over the loss to Struff to Roland-Garros?

Andrey Rublev: "You can take a lesson from everything and if you want to improve, everything can be a good lesson. So of course I was really disappointed but in the end I fought there. I was two sets down against a really great player, one that beat Medvedev on grass just one week ago, I was two sets to love down and I managed to come back and it was tough, the last set. Of course I was disappointed, but the way I fight and at least I tried and I came back—it's a little bit I feel better because of this.

“I would feel worse if I lose two sets and the third set I would lose 6-3 or 6-2, then I would feel much worse, but that I managed to come back and I was close to winning at least it's helping me."

Tennis Now: And even though you didn’t finish with the title in Halle, how good was that experience to reach the final and maybe put the clay season behind you?

Andrey Rublev: "It's a nice feeling that, and beat some players that I never beat before, and of course one more final. It's always special to play a final—I'm working for these moments, to be at this level, to play finals, to try to play as deep as I can in all tournaments, and of course this is just my third final of the year, so it's not happening often.

"Of course you try to enjoy these moments and be grateful for this that I reached one more final, I did a great week, I beat great players, so now I have enough adaptation for grass, so let's see what's going to happen here."

 

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