Rublev making his mark
Originally published on 04/09/17 00:00
In a match that was competitive for the first two sets, the Russian held the advantage, taking the first set in 39 minutes and winning the second set in a tiebreak. But in the third set, Goffin who played throughout the tournament with strapping on his left knee, began to show signs of discomfort.
Rublev claimed the third set in just over half an hour after a sizzling forehand return had the weary Belgian beaten.
The Russian stated after the match that he was aware of Goffin’s knee troubles. “I felt a little more relaxed because I know it just depended on me,” he said. “If I played well, I was going to win the match and that is what happened.”
The Russian, who is currently fourth in the Emirates ATP Race to Milan, has had a rapid rise up the rankings this year. He broke into the Top 100 in June following his first tour level quarter-final appearance in Halle. He then reached the Top 50 in July when he won his first tour title in Umag.
No stranger to competing at Grand Slams, Rublev qualified and reached the second round of the Australian Open, where he lost to Andy Murray earlier this year. He also reached the second round at Wimbledon, losing in five sets to Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
His prize for reaching the last eight, is a showdown with Rafael Nadal.
“Rafa is a real champion and I am just going to try to enjoy it,” he said. “I have nothing to lose.”
Perhaps the 19-year-old was fortunate to meet an impaired Goffin today, but he has earned his place in the quarter-finals. He has also made it to the third round in the doubles with fellow Russian, Karen Khachanov.
“I am a little bit lucky to be in the quarter-finals,” he said. “I am enjoying it and I will try to do my best in the next match.”
On his next opponent, Nadal said: “Maximum respect to him. It is going to be a tough one. He (Rublev) has already played great matches, winning against Dimitrov and against Goffin in straight sets.”
Nadal is not underestimating his youthful opponent. “He's not a kid in this event,” he said. “He has been on the tour for a while and he's playing well. He's a solid player.”
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