Andrey Rublev advanced to his second straight Hamburg European Open final on Saturday, ending the run of in-form Norwegian Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-2.
The World No. 14 won 54 per cent of his first-serve return points (19/35) to defeat Ruud in Hamburg for the second straight year. At last year’s event, Rublev rallied from a set down to beat the 6’0″ right-hander 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the second round.
”[It is] my first ever time that two years in a row I reached a final at the same tournament,” said Rublev, in an on-court interview. “For the moment, it is the most special tournament for me. We will see how it goes tomorrow.”
Rublev is through to his third final of 2020. The Russian became the first player since Dominik Hrbaty in 2004 to win back-to-back trophies in the opening two weeks of the year. Rublev claimed 11 straight victories to open his 2020 ATP Tour season, winning titles in Doha and Adelaide before a run to the Round of 16 at the Australian Open.
With his straight-sets win against Ruud, the 22-year-old improves to 24-6 this season. Only Novak Djokovic (31-1) owns more victories than Rublev this year.
Most ATP Tour Wins In 2020
Ruud was competing in his fourth semi-final from five clay events this year. The 21-year-old earned his maiden ATP Tour title at the Argentina Open (d. P. Sousa) and also advanced to the Santiago final in February (l. to Seyboth Wild).
At last week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Ruud reached his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final (l. to Djokovic). The Norwegian leads the ATP Tour with 15 clay wins this year (15-4).
“Casper did such a great run this week,” said Rublev. “He did such a great run last week in Rome… lost a good match against Djokovic. He is really on a high level now and I wish him good look at Roland Garros.”
Rublev will face Stefanos Tsitsipas or Cristian Garin in the final. The 2019 runner-up is tied at 1-1 in his ATP Head2Head series against Tsitsipas and owns a 2-0 ATP Head2Head record against Garin.
Under a closed roof on Centre Court, Rublev stepped in on his forehand and pushed Ruud behind the baseline to earn an early break advantage. Despite dropping serve at 3-2, Rublev continued to find success on his return. The four-time ATP Tour titlist regained his advantage in the next game after an extended rally, moving up the court to land a backhand drop shot winner. Rublev closed the set with a love service hold after 50 minutes.
After winning only 48 per cent of first-serve points (11/23) in the opening set, Ruud received treatment to his right shoulder ahead of the second set. Rublev earned three further breaks when play resumed, as he continued to dictate points by stepping inside the baseline and driving powerful groundstrokes up the line. The Moscow native ran to the net and flicked a forehand winner up the line to convert his second match point.
“The match was really tough. I think everyone saw how tough it was, how [many] long rallies we had, how many chances both of us had,” said Rublev. “It could [have been] easily 6-4, 6-2 to Casper’s side, but I was a little bit lucky. In the most important moments and at the end, the match was for me. I am really happy with the way I played today.”