22 year old Andrey Rublev has made it two titles in two weeks, as he thrashed Lloyd George Harris in the final of Adelaide International.
The Russian, who won his third career title in Doha last week, dispatched the South African Harris 6-3 6-0 in an uncompetitive showdown. Now ranked 18th in the world, Rublev has had a perfect start to 2020 making it eight match wins in eight.
The week saw him comfortable beat American Sam Querrey in straight sets, before being tested by in form Brit Dan Evans, who himself is at a career high of 33 after an impressive ATP Cup showing. Rublev won the first set 6-4 but Evans levelled the tie winning 6-3 in the second. In fact, this was this was the first set Rublev had lost all year, after winning all of his matches in straights sets en route to the ExxonMobil Open crown in Qatar last week. The Russian young-gun saw off Evans 6-3 in the third.
His most difficult test so far this year came from 19-year-old ‘NextGen’ star Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada. Ranked 21st in the world the man from Montreal made headlines last summer when he entered the world’s top 20 just after his 19th birthday. Like Evans, Auger-Aliassime was able to take the second set of Rublev in a sensational 9-7 tiebreak, saving a match point on the way. However Rublev looked electric on return in the third set and clinched the semi-final, which would end up being his last real test of the week.
After crushing Harris and becoming champion on Australia’s South Coast, the Russian said in his on-court interview: “It’s an amazing feeling… I’m really happy. I hope I keep working. I hope I keep improving, and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Now having won titles in Umag, Moscow, Doha and Adelaide, Rublev will look to continue his form next week for the season’s first Grand Slam- The Australian Open. Despite his recent form Rublev has not made it to a slam quarter final since the 2017 US Open when he was just a teenager. His best Australian Open result came two years ago when he reached the third round, losing to then third seed Grigor Dimitrov.
At this year’s competition Rublev has a first round match up with Australian wildcard Christopher O’Connell ranked 116th in the world. Potential third and fourth round fixtures for Rublev could be against 11th seed David Goffin and 7th seed Alexander Zverev.
Seeded 17th himself though, there is no denying that Rublev will be on top confidence levels and will fancy his chances of making it far in Melbourne.
This week also saw the ATP Auckland Open where there were a fair amount of upsets. Notably the number one seed Fabio Fognini fell in his first match against fellow veteran of the sport Feliciano Lopez.
France world number 24 Benoit Paire had an impressive week, winning all four of his matches across three sets on the way to the final. This could have taken a lot of steam out of his legs for the final however, as again he went the distance with 21 year old compatriot Ugo Humbert, ranked 57th in the world.
The youngster who lifted his first ever ATP Tour trophy battled past Paire to win 7-6 3-6 7-6 in a thrilling final. In fact he did not only have to battle past a resilient Paire, but this week also saw him land impressive wins against Denis Shapovalov and John Isner. Before this week he has 0-1 career records against all three players.
Humbert played his first Australian Open last year but lost in the first round to Jeremy Chardy. He did however make it to round four at Wimbledon last year.
The man from Metz faces off against home faveroutie John Millman in the first round next week. He will expect a tough test from the 30 year old. The man from Brisbane who has made an impressive start to 2020 after wins over top 25 players Auger-Aliassime and Karen Khachanov.
The Australian Open begins Monday.