Andrey Rublev at the 2019 US Open

ONES TO WATCH: Andrey Rublev – Could 2020 see him break into the top 10?

In the first of a mini-series detailing the players with something to prove in 2020, Toby Oliver profiles rising Russian star Andrey Rublev and his chances of having a breakthrough year.

Andrey Rublev has had a remarkable start to the 2020 season, with the 22-year-old Russian winning two titles in the first two weeks of the year.

His victories at the Qatar Open and the Adelaide International actually mean he is the first player since 2004 to win two titles in the first two weeks of the ATP Tour. The last player to do it was Dominik Hrbatý when he won tournaments in Adelaide and Auckland.

Rublev didn’t compete at the inaugural ATP Cup because only the top two highest ranked singles players from each nation qualified. Therefore, he entered the Qatar Open as the second seed. The Russian stormed his way to the title without dropping a set, beating Corentin Moutet in the final.

The 22-year-old then moved on to the Adelaide International to compete in the first edition of the event, the week before the start of the Australian Open. He faced some tricky opponents here with some very tough matches against high quality players. His first real test was against Dan Evans in the quarter-final, who managed to take the second set. However, Rublev’s raw power proved to be too much for the Brit in the end.

The semi-final against Félix Auger-Aliassime was an epic encounter, with the Russian prevailing after almost three hours of play in three close sets. The final was much more straightforward for Rublev as he comfortably beat South African qualifier Lloyd Harris 6-3 6-0.

Rublev was full of confidence at the start of the Australian Open, however five-set tennis is very different to three. He battled past the first two rounds before facing 11th seed David Goffin in the third round. He won his eleventh match in a row by beating Goffin in a fourth set tiebreak.

However, his winning streak came to an end in the fourth round as he fell to Alexander Zverev in straight sets. This was Rublev’s best performance to date at the Australian Open and his second best at a Grand Slam as he reached the quarter-final of the US Open in 2017.

Rublev’s start to the season has been excellent and has seen him reach a career high ranking of 15 in the world. Surely, if he continues winning he’ll reach the top ten very soon and go deep at more Grand Slams.

Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.