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Rublev vs Caruana Next Gen ATP Finals live streaming, preview and tips - 2017 Milan runner-up Rublev targeting a return to semi-finals

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 7 Nov 2018
  • Andrey Rublev vs Liam Caruana is live from Milan around 3.00pm local time on Thursday (2.00pm BST)
  • First career meeting between the pair
Andrey Rublev (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Andrey Rublev will be aiming to reach the Next Gen ATP Finals semi-finals on Thursday when he squares off against home favourite Liam Caruana in Milan.

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Last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up Andrey Rublev needs to take out Italian wildcard Liam Caruana on Thursday to give himself the best chance of qualifying for the semi-finals in Milan for the second year running.

After beating Taylor Fritz in his opening match, Rublev knew he could book his spot in the final four by beating Alex de Minaur on Wednesday, but the Australian proved too strong for the Russian for the second time this season as he beat the 2017 finalist 4-1 3-4(5) 4-1 4-2. Rublev showcased glimpses of his best tennis, especially on his fearsome forehand, but he’s yet to recapture his best tennis after missing large chunks of the year through injury. Meanwhile, Caruana - the World No. 622 who earned a wildcard into the event - played well above his ranking against junior rival Fritz, holding three set points for a two-sets-to-one lead in the third, but he ultimately couldn’t convert as the American used his greater experience to register a 1-4 4-1 4-3(9) 4-2 victory, condemning the Italian to his second loss of the competition.

Rublev and Fritz are now battling each other for a place in the semi-finals from Group B, but the Russian can put himself in pole position if he can defeat Caruana in straight sets - something Fritz wasn’t able to do.

Still just 21 years of age, Rublev made great strides up the rankings in 2017, starting the year outside the top 150 and ending it inside the top 40, with his highlights including winning his first ATP World Tour title as a lucky loser in Umag and reaching his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final at the U.S. Open, beating Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin - the pair that would go on to contest the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals title match that year - along the way, becoming the youngest U.S. Open quarter-finalist since 2001 and the first member of the Next Gen to reach the last eight of a major.

Rublev continued his upward trajectory into the first couple of months of 2018, finishing runner-up in Doha, making the third round of the Australian Open and reaching back-to-back quarter-finals in Montpellier and Rotterdam to hit a career-high ranking of No. 31, but he lost his next three matches on the bounce in Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami. It was clear that something was bothering Rublev, and soon after the Russian announced he was dealing with a stress fracture in his lower back, which ultimately caused him to miss three months of action.

Falling to a current ranking of No. 68, Rublev returned in Umag and made the quarter-finals, while he also advanced to the semi-finals of Washington, but he lost his next five matches after that and hasn’t won back-to-back matches since August. Can he regain some momentum by reaching the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan?

Liam Caruana (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Caruana was making decent progress up the rankings as he won his first Futures title in Decatur and made his maiden Challenger semi-final in Todi in 2017, along with making his ATP World Tour debut at the ASB Classic in Auckland at the start of 2018, beating No. 110 Blaz Kavcic in qualifying before earning himself a match against No. 46 Steve Johnson in the main draw, where he pushed the American all the way before falling 5-7 6-7(4).


Those results propelled Caruana to the cusp of the top 300, but the Italian who resides in the United States hasn’t been able to push on and take his career to the next level this year, winning just two more Challenger main draw matches for the season as his ranking has slipped to outside the top 600. However, Caruana has demonstrated this week that he is a much better player than the world No. 622, but part of a young player’s journey onto the big stage is being able to win matches where nobody is watching in the less-than-ideal conditions of the Challenger and Futures circuit - and so far, the 20-year-old has been unable to do that.

In saying that, Caruana is relishing the chance to play amongst his fellow young guns who have already established themselves near the top of the game this week, so maybe this will be the start of a big rise for the Italian in 2019? Regardless, he starts as the massive underdog against Rublev, who has it all to play for with a semi-final spot on the line. This format gives Caruana a better chance, but it would be an enormous shock if the Russian lost this match.


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Rublev vs Caruana Next Gen ATP Finals live streaming, preview and tips - 2017 Milan runner-up Rublev targeting a return to semi-finals

Andrey Rublev will be aiming to reach the Next Gen ATP Finals semi-finals on Thursday when he squares off against home favourite Liam Caruana in Milan.

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