Rising star Andrey Rublev targets a second ATP title when he takes on the unorthodox Adrian Mannarino in the VTB Kremlin Cup final on Sunday.
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Andrey Rublev goes in search of his first ATP title in over two years against last year’s VTB Kremlin Cup runner-up Adrian Mannarino on Sunday.
It’s been a fighting effort from Rublev all week at his hometown tournament as he came into Moscow with a 0-4 record at the tournament, but he’s erased those demons emphatically, earning back-to-back three-set wins over Alexander Bublik and Egor Gerasimov in his first two rounds before easing past lucky loser Nikola Milojevic 6-2 6-3 in the quarter-finals. Rublev was then confronted by two-time Moscow champion Marin Cilic in Saturday’s semi-finals, but the Croatian has been in poor form all season and the Russian took advantage, reeling off four straight games as he recovered from 3-5 in the opening set before completing a 7-5 6-4 victory, snapping Cilic’s 13-match winning streak in Moscow in the process.
“I am insanely happy to reach the finals at home in Moscow… This tournament evokes my childhood. For me, going out to play in the finals tomorrow is incredible,” said Rublev.
Rublev was actually the first member of the ‘Next Gen’ to make a Grand Slam quarter-final when he did so at the 2017 U.S. Open, which contributed to a career-high ranking of No. 31 in the early stages of 2018, but unfortunately the 21-year-old was then struck down by injuries – firstly suffering from stress fractures in his lower back last year, which caused him to miss several months, while he was also sidelined for six weeks this year with a wrist injury. Rublev, who won his first ATP title as a lucky loser in Umag in 2017, dropped out of the top 100 briefly this season as a result, but he broke back inside the top 50 in July when he scored his first top five win over Dominic Thiem to make his maiden ATP 500 final in Hamburg, losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili, while he posted his second top five scalp in Cincinnati, taking out Roger Federer in straight sets for the biggest win of his young career as he made his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final.
The Russian would go on to make the quarter-finals in Winston-Salem and the fourth round at the U.S. Open, while a Round of 16 finish in Shanghai last week propelled him to No. 31 in the world, which equalled his career-high mark – and courtesy of his run this week in Moscow he will rise to No. 26 with a final and around No. 22 with a title.
Adrian Mannarino (PA Images)
Meanwhile, Adrian Mannarino has advanced into a personal-best third ATP final of the season and his second consecutive final in Moscow after finishing runner-up to another Russian in Karen Khachanov last year. The Frenchman hasn’t relinquished a set all week, defeating Damir Dzumhur, Mikhail Kukushkin, Dusan Lajovic and Andreas Seppi to set up Sunday’s showpiece with Rublev.
“That was a really consistent match… I was trying to make Andreas work as hard as I could and I think that it worked out pretty well,” Mannarino said after his 6-3 6-4 win over Seppi. “I was serving well in the most important moments and that helped me a lot. I just hope I will be as consistent [tomorrow as I was] today.”
It’s been a strange old season for the 31-year-old. Mannarino dropped to his lowest ranking in three years earlier in the season at No. 69, but he also snapped a six-match losing streak in ATP Finals as he finally captured his first career title in s-Hertogenbosch during the grass season, defeating Jordan Thompson in the final. Mannarino also lost his first six matches of the season, but he’s been getting back to some of his best tennis over the last couple of months, reaching the Round of 16 at the Canada and Cincinnati Masters, while he also finished runner-up to Alex de Minaur at the Zhuhai Championships.
This will be the first meeting between the pair, and I think Rublev has the edge on Sunday. There is a reason Mannarino lost his first six finals, and that’s because, for me, he doesn’t really have that one big weapon or extra gear he can go to when it comes to the crunch. Rublev on the other hand has a monster forehand and a booming all-court game, and when he’s playing well, he should be beating Mannarino nine times out of 10 in this sort of environment. I’d be very surprised if Rublev didn’t come away with a second career title in Moscow.
Rublev vs Mannarino ATP Moscow live streaming, preview and tips – Rublev targets second ATP title at Kremlin Cup
Rising star Andrey Rublev targets a second ATP title when he takes on the unorthodox Adrian Mannarino in the VTB…
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