Rublev Marches His Way Into ATP Finals With Vienna Victory

Andrey Rublev (photo: e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Christian Hofer)

VIENNA/WASHINGTON, October 26, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

Consistency has been the hallmark of Andrey Rublev‘s 2023 season. For the third straight year, the 26-year-old Russian has achieved 50-plus wins on the ATP Tour. Following his 7-5, 6-3 second-round victory over Italy’s 46th-ranked Matteo Arnaldi at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna on Thursday, which advanced him to the quarterfinal round, Rublev has also qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for the fourth consecutive year.

Rublev is the fifth player to book his reservation for Turin at the year-end championships from Nov. 12-19. He joins Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner. Three more places in the eight-player line-up remain to be filled. Currently, the leading contenders are: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Holger Rune.

In addition to winning an ATP 250 title in Bastad earlier this season, Rublev has also broken new ground for him by winning his first Masters 1000 title, at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. It marks the third time in the last four years that he’s won multiple tour-level trophies. Rublev has also been a finalist in Dubai, Banja Luka, Halle and Shanghai in 2023. He’s tied for his career-high ranking at World No. 5.

On Thursday, the third-seeded Rublev began Austrian National Day inside Wiener Stadthalle by reaching his 11th tour-level quarterfinal of the season and first on an indoor hard court since winning the 2022 Gijon title. He hit 21 winners and won 83 percent of his first-serve points against the 22-year-old Arnaldi, who was seeking his second career win against a Top-10 player. Rublev outpointed his opponent 74-59 during the 86-minute match to improve to 52-21 this season.

“It feels great,” Rublev said in a post-match interview with ATP Media. “It’s great news. After the match I didn’t know that if I would win the match I would qualify for sure, so I didn’t know that and it’s a great feeling, great news. Looking forward [to it] and happy to be part of the Nitto ATP Finals for one more year.”

Last year in Turin, Rublev advanced out of group play for the first time before losing to Casper Ruud in the semifinals. First, though, Rublev will face No. 5 seed Zverev of Germany, who is 9-1 lifetime in Vienna and won the 2021 Erste Bank Open title, in the quarterfinals Friday evening.

Defending champ Medvedev rallies for Tour-leading 45th hard-court win

Defending champion Daniil Medvedev of Russia extended his Vienna winning streak to seven after defeating World No. 17 and last year’s semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. This year’s top seed improved his lifetime win-loss record against Dimitrov to 6-2, including 3-0 indoors.

The 27-year-old Russian dug deep after Dimitrov jumped out early and gained a set lead. Medvedev broke Dimitrov in the opening game of the second set, and again in the ninth game of the final set – at love. Soon, he served out the victory in the next game, finishing with 31 winners overall, including 14 aces, during the two-hour, six-minute match.

“It was a great match,” Medvedev said during his on-court interview. “He started really well and I was missing just a little bit too much. He was ahead and starting from the second set I started to play better, to run better, to put more balls in the court and play faster when I needed to.

“I managed to have small control of the match, but it was very tough and could have gone either way. I’m very happy I managed to do it.”

Medvedev, who has accumulated 45 hard court wins this season of his 62 overall triumphs, is now 23-8 against Top 20 players and 11-3 in quarterfinals this season (including 9-1 on hard courts). Next, he will play fellow Russian and eighth seed Karen Khachanov in the quarterfinal round.

Sinner remains perfect against all Italians

World No. 4 Jannik Sinner is a lights-out 21-4 since the start of July, highlighted by titles won at the Masters 1000 event in Toronto and the ATP 500 Beijing Open. He is 26-2 against players ranked outside the Top 50 this season and, after being fellow Italian Lorenzo Sonego, 6-2, 6-4, Thursday evening, he has a perfect record (11-0) at tour-level against his compatriots.

Against the 52nd-ranked lucky loser Sonego, Sinner hit 20 winners, made just seven unforced errors, saved both break points he faced and outpointed his opponent 69-53. It all added up to his 53rd victory of the season and advanced Sinner to his 13th quarterfinal appearance of the season.

Next, the No. 2 seed Sinner will face  No. 7 seed Frances Tiafoe of the United States. The World No. 14 from Maryland rallied to defeat No. 89 Gaël Monfils of France, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, in two hours and nine minutes.

Tiafoe hit 35 winners and broke Monfils’ serve three times en route to reaching his eighth quarterfinal of the season. He’s recorded 40 wins in a single season for the first time in his career to join fellow Americans Taylor Fritz (53) and Tommy Paul (40) this year. The loss broke a six-match winning streak for Monfils, who won last week’s Stockholm title.

Around the Erste Bank Open

• Unseeded Borna Gojo of Croatia, ranked 77th, upset No. 6 seed Tommy Paul of the United States, 6-3, 6-4, to advance to the quarterfinals. He hit 22 winners and outpointed his opponent 68-54. The No.12 Paul is the highest-ranked player Gojo has beaten this season. The win improved his tour-level win-loss record to 12-8 this season.

• On Friday, Gojo will face No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who beat No. 74 Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, in an hour and 58 minutes, to reach the Vienna quarterfinals for the first time in four attempts. After rallying from 1-4 down in the final set, the Greek star improved to 28-6 against players ranked outside of the Top 50 this season, and he’s now 5–0 in tour-level matches versus Czech players after hitting 10 aces and 29 winners against Machac.

Thursday’s Erste Bank Open results

Friday’s Erste Bank Open order of play

By the numbers

World No. 4 Jannik Sinner of Italy owns an unblemished 11-0 record against other Italians on tour-level, including 4-0 versus Lorenzo Sonego, his opponent on Thursday.

“Quotable …”

“I like this tournament. It’s always nice to come back to a tournament you like. Normally, it’s true that a title helps you when you come back. It almost feels like home here. My hotel is very centrally located, so I can easily go for short walks. Vienna is a pleasant city and the weather is also very good this year.”

Daniil Medvedev of Russia, the defending Erste Bank Open champion, from his first-round press conference in Vienna on Wednesday.