Dubai: Andrey Rublev, who was mentally distracted during his quarterfinal win over Botic van de Zandschulp, said he wanted to stay stress-free and remain cool after almost losing the initiative. Less than 24 hours later, the defending champion did exactly what he aspired to achieve during the clinical win over his childhood friend Alexander Zverev to book his place in the final against Daniil Medvedev on Friday.
The second seed said: “Today [Friday] I was complaining much less than yesterday. On Thursday, I had the match completely under control, still I put myself under severe stress, but today I was only 50/50 against Sasha, still I was able to be more stable, which is really good.”
Not just good, it was a great response from the 25-year-old, against a player whom he has lost all his five previous attempts. Against all odds, the world No 6 started with a break and never let go of the opportunity till the end to win 6-3, 7-6 in the two-hour contest.
Nothing to lose
Talking about the change of game plan that allowed Rublev to break the duck against the seventh-seeded German, the Russian sent an ace that whizzed past the journalists.
“I went to the court today feeling, I have nothing to lose. I lost to him five times, so who cares if it’s six times or five times? One more, one less, makes no big difference.” He spoke on how he handled the pressure of playing his nemesis and the added burden of being the defending champion.
“Why I should feel pressure? He’s the one who should feel pressure because maybe can be his first time that he can lose to me. He should be the one who had pressure, not me. In my case, five or six or seven, it already doesn’t matter. So I was thinking more this way and that probably helped me to be more relax.”
Plenty of bonding
Though the both, Rublev and Zverev, shared a lot of bonding, the Russian laughingly said that he didn’t get any response from his friend when he was on injury break and was quick to sympathise with the German.
“He replied to me once after maybe a month, but it’s not easy when you have injury like this. It’s really tough, mentally I would say. I don’t think it is something that is disturbing him now.”
The victory has pitted him against another friend and compatriot Medvedev and Rublev assessment was that there’s hardly anything to choose from the Russian and the Serbian world No 1 Novak Djokovic.
“The way they play from the baseline is a bit different, but tactic-wise I would say both are similar. Daniil is the one who counter-attacks, waits for the right moment. Against Daniil, it’s going to be maybe 30 shots one rally,” he said mentally preparing for another gruelling contest in the final.