Andrey Rublev is happy with his game and he feels he is in the right path after losing in the quarter-finals of th Australian Open this year. Video Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Dubai: Winning is all about belief. In a sport like tennis it is the belief that helps the champions stage remarkable comebacks to script their voyage to success from the brink. Andrey Rublev, the world No 5, is happy to have proved his worth in 2023 to be among the world’s elite.

“When I finished at No 5 last year, I felt I totally deserved. I had been a world No 5 in 2021, but in my opinion that was not a true reflection of my status. It was due to players getting injured and ending their season early or some didn’t play well. I also felt that my game was not up to the No 5 world ranking. But now I feel that I finished the year as I should have finished,” the 26-year-old Russian told Gulf News at Aster Pharmacy’s launch of Muscle Bolt, a sports nutrition supplement designed to improve the health of fitness enthusiasts and athletes.

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Rublev made it to all four Grand Slam quarter-finals last year and in the first Major of 2024, he lost to eventual winner Jannik Sinner, again in the quarter-finals.

“In this Australian Open, I was feeling proud about my efforts because I felt that mentally I was in a good shape and heading in the right direction. That’s the most important thing. The better I prepare mentally, the faster I will break this quarter-final hurdle,” he added nonchalantly.

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Rublev along with N.S. Balasubramanian and other senior leadership from Aster DM Healthcare at the launch of Muscle Bolt. Image Credit: Supplied

Obviously, it’s not easy to be at the last eight stage of a major, that shows his consistency and it’s only a matter of time before he makes the push towards the top.

“My target this year is to keep improving, get better as a player and as a person. I want to improve mentally and be ready for those big moments of Majors to take my chances when I face the same opponent again,” he added.

Explaining the intense competition at the top of world tennis after 23-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic losing in the semi-finals to Sinner, Rublev feels there is only a fine line that separates the top five. “They’re all great players. Daniil Medvedev, Jannik and Carlos Alcaraz are all amazing players. Carlos is the best player. Everyone knows that Daniil can win a Grand Slam. He played in six finals and he was close to winning some of them, two sets up against Rafael Nadal and Jannik. Maybe when they play again the results could be different. At this level, it’s not about tennis, it about little details like who is more mentally ready in that moment and who’s feeling better on that day. May be when the play a week later it could be different story as everyone know how to play tennis. I am besides them.”

Uncertain future

Rublev, who won the Olympics Mixed Doubles gold in Tokyo Games 2020, is eager to be part of the Paris Games 2024 and looking forward to spending time at the Athletes Village. But he faces an uncertain future to defend his gold as there is still no clarity on how the Russian athletes will be taking part in the Olympics later this year.

“I would love to play there because I remember the emotions from the last Olympic Games when you stay in the Village with other athletes. Far us it’s different, not like all the tennis tournaments. It’s something truly special. Of course, if I have chance to be there one more time, I would love to be there and I would love to play at the Olympics,” he added.

When asked what would he choose between Olympics gold medal and a Grand Slam title, his reply came faster than his forehand.

“I will take the Grand Slam crown, because I already have one Olympics gold,” said Rublev, who had made it to the 2022 ATP Tour Finals in 2022 apart from winning 15 career titles.

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Rublev, 2020 Olympic Mixed Doubles gold medallist, is eager to win his first Grand Slam title Image Credit: AFP

Rublev, Brand Ambassador of Aster, kept the audience entertained with his humorous response to the questions thrown at him, just the way he imparts a lot of spin to his shots.

“I am glad to be here at the introduction of Muscle Bolt in the region and absolutely pleased to continue my partnership with Aster pharmacy, which provides an outstanding selection of health, nutrition and fitness products that strongly aligns with my opinion that a healthy active lifestyle is a solid foundation for overall well-being,” Rublev said during the announcement.

Hardwork is the key

The spin came later when he said these supplements will undoubtedly provide the edge, but the real difference in one’s game comes from the hardwork they put in.

Speaking at the launch, N.S. Balasubramanian, CEO of Aster Retail, said: “As a leading regional retailer for nutrition products and supplements, with a special focus on sports and fitness enthusiasts, we are delighted to introduce Muscle Bolt in GCC. As a super star athlete and fitness icon, Rublev saw value in the concept of empowering individuals to take control of their health, which provides the foundation for good-health and well-being.”

The ultra-filtered high quality protein supplement provides three key performance components without artificial flavours or sweeteners: endurance, energy and metabolic support. Essentially gluten-free and vegetable oil-free, the supplement boosts strength and lean muscle growth. Six products are being introduced from the Muscle Bolt range — Whey Protein, Mass Gainers, Pre-Work outs, BCAA and Glutamine & Creatine. Muscle Bolt’s range of products will be available through Aster Pharmacy’s retail stores, myAster, online platforms across UAE by April 20.