Rublev Races Into Milan Final
Andrey Rublev started the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals mired in a five-set battle against the World No. 305 Gianluigi Quinzi, the Italian wild card. The Russian looked uncomfortable and said he wasn't so sure about the shorter format being used in Milan.
Three days later, it looks as if Rublev has acclimated well. The 20-year-old Moscow native handed Croatian Borna Coric his first loss of the tournament, sweeping the Group B winner 4-1, 4-3(6), 4-1 on Friday night to reach the title match of the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals.
“I am just finding the rhythm,” Rublev said. “The last tournaments I didn't play very well and I was losing fast, and now I've played three matches in group play. Now the semi-finals. So I just get used to it, and I think I find the rhythm. Now I'm playing better.”
On Saturday night, the top-seeded Russian will go for his second ATP World Tour title against either South Korean Hyeon Chung, who also hasn't lost yet in Italy, or seventh-seeded countryman Daniil Medvedev. Chung and Medvedev are playing the second semi-final at the Fiera Milano.
Rublev celebrated his maiden ATP World Tour title in July in Umag, when, as a lucky loser, he raced through the draw and beat Italian veteran Paolo Lorenzi in the final. On Friday, the Russian looked ready to hoist another trophy this weekend.
Rublev was relentless against Coric, swinging away from the start. He broke when Coric double faulted for a 2-0 lead, and then the Russian held to love to gain a one-set lead after 15 minutes. Coric, who came back from two sets down against Russian Karen Khachanov on Thursday night, rallied in the second but couldn't get over the hump during the tie-break. A single break sealed the match for Rublev in the third set.
“He was just playing too good for me today,” Coric said. “He was the better player on the court.”
Rublev finished with 17 winners to only eight unforced errors. Coric, meanwhile, hit 12 winners but 14 unforced errors. “This was my best tennis the week. I'm really happy, and I hope tomorrow I can show an even better game,” Rublev said.