Andrey Rublev Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Fast-improving Russian Andrey Rublev admits to using his basketball and boxing skills from the past to scale greater heights in tennis.

Growing up as a tennis player, Rublev was used to doing a bit of boxing and basketball but once tennis took over, the youngster has not had time for anything else.

“I am not really doing boxing and basketball now as I hardly get any time for myself. I used to do quite a bit of both in the past, but now it’s all about tennis and that takes almost 95 per cent of my time now,” Rublev told Gulf News.

“I finish from the court by 7 or 8pm and then head home, have dinner and start preparing for the next morning. That’s my life now. But the other sport like boxing and basketball are definitely helping me in my movement and agility while playing tennis,” he added.

Rublev, who was drawn to take on one of the four qualifiers in the first round at the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open, has been considered one of the brightest emerging talents in the men’s game. Making his first main draw entry in Dubai, Rublev is at a career high No 14.

His presence among the top players has been justified with the 22-year-old Russian already winning back-to-back events in Doha and Adelaide last month.

He defeated Corentin Moutet for the Qatar Open on January 11 and then got the better of South Africa’s Lloyd Harris a week later in Adelaide.

“Yes, the start to the season has been amazing. But at this moment, the main thing is that I haven’t dropped my level. There are still some things that need improvement and I know I can improve on these if I want to be a better player,” the Russian said.

“The main goal for me now will be to take my level one step higher, keep my focus, keeping working hard and keep doing what I do best,” he added.

“It is amazing to hear the big players saying that I am among the rising stars. Guys like Roger [Federer], Novak [Djokovic], Andy [Murray] and Rafa [Nadal] are among the greatest set of players we’ve had in tennis. And then, there are quite a few of us who are catching up with them.

“There are some much better players than me, guys like [Denis] Shapovalov, [Stefanos] Tsistsipas, [Daniil] Medvedev and [Karen] Khachanov who are all doing better than me at the moment. I know I am just going to do my best and nothing is going to be easy. First I need to work hard and improve and be a better person and we will see where we go on from there,” Rublev added.