Hungry for more, Andrey Rublev’s first Grand Slam quarter-final is not enough. The #NextGenATP Russian is the first to admit he was dealt a lesson in his showdown with top seed Rafael Nadal on Thursday.
But the 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 defeat only served to inspire the 19 year old to practise harder and “improve everything” for the next time they cross paths. And the praise was forthcoming from his Spanish conqueror.
Nadal tipped the Russian to be among the next generation of players to taste success on the biggest stages. It was a compliment Rublev planned to take on board.
“It’s a big honour for me to hear this from him, and, I mean, now I have to prove that he’s maybe right,” Rublev grinned. The main thing now is to try to keep working harder and harder, to improve, because I still have a lot of things to improve. This match told me how far I am and how much I need to improve, so now it is time to try to be better and become stronger.”
Nadal Sweeps Past Rublev Into Semis
It has already been a meteoric rise for the teenager. He had to win through qualifying to make the main draw of the Australian Open in January and by July had captured his first ATP World Tour title in Umag, as a lucky loser. Still, he was aware of what he needed to improve on to close the gap on the game’s best.
“Physically I’m strong, actually. It’s more with the legs,” Rublev said. “I’m not that fast, like top players. They are faster than me. You can see, for example, today, I was hitting sometimes as hard as I can, and I need to hit four, five shots to make a winner. For him sometimes, he needed to hit much slower and he needed maybe one or two shots. This is the main thing.”
Nerves, he insisted, were not a factor on Thursday. On the sport’s most boisterous of stages, this is where he felt he belonged.
“When I walk on the court, I feel so good,” he said. “I feel like this is it… I feel when I walk on the court, I feel that I don’t want to go out from the court, you know. These are great emotions. I would like to play on these courts more and more.”