In what turned out to be an epic 5-set match, Andrey Rublev fought his hardest to oust Australia’s Alex de Minaur.
The final score was 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-0.
The world no. 5 was severely hampered by what appeared to be cramps in the fifth set but his superp ball striking abilities saw him just hold on, despite the final set going 6-0 his way.
de Minaur had three break points in what would be the final game of the match but Rublev kept him at bay.
If de Minaur could have converted a break point it may have been different. To the credit of Rublev, he hit the lines so many times when he was in trouble.Embed from Getty Images
It was a classic match with both players fighting hard for each point but it was the serve of de Minaur that let him down. When he needed first serves he could not find one.
The Australian served at 53% for the match with Rublev at 59% on first serves.
de Minaur conceded that the low first serve percentage hurt him.
“I just was not finding first serves,” he said. “In those crucial moments, I was giving him too many second serves and he was able to just swing freely.” he said.
In the very first game of the match it was de Minaur that had two break point opportunities. Rublev would fight him off with a good wide served at 15-40 and then de Minaur rushed an easy volley to let slip a golden opportunity.
In the fourth game de Minaur was immediately behind after netting a forehand. The world no. 10 was in further trouble when he hit wide to give Rublev 0-30.
Rublev would return long for 15-30 but then a 18-shot rally with Rublev edging closer and closer to the net saw him force an error from the Australian. More brutal hitting from Rublev saw him force another error to convert the break point.
In the seventh game de Minaur came storming back after Rublev pulled his shots wide on the first two points. A double fault handing de Minaur three break points,
It took another long rally before de Minaur saw Rublev hit wide from a backhand with the Australian breaking to love. After holding it was 4-4 and momentum was with de Minaur.
The tenth game started perfectly for de Minaur as he hit two Aces. Some big hitting from Rublev saw de Minaur push a forehand well over the baseline before an unforced error from the Australian made it 30-30.
A return into the net and de Minaur had a game point. A netted shot from de Minaur saw the score at deuce. Big hitting from Rublev had de Minaur on the run but it was a simple forehand that was hit wide that gave Rublev a set point.
A 208 km first serve saw Rublev send the ball sailing wide on a return but again a big forehand rushed de Minaur and his shot went long. A double-fault handing Rublev the set.
The second set saw both players hold serve to take the set to a tie-breaker.
Mini breaks were traded early before de Minaur edged ahead at 5-3. That was enough to see the Australian hold on to level the match.
The third set saw de Minaur take the early advantage when he broke in the second game, the Australian consolidated the break to lead 3-0. At that change of ends de Minaur called for a trainer to attend to a blister on his heel.
The Australian was at 5-2 after holding again but then in the ninth game it was Rublev that hit back to get back the break.
After saving a break point in the 12th game, Rublev held to again see a tie-breaker decide the set.
Rublev got the first mini-break when he ripped a backhand across court as de Minaur charged the net.
de Minaur got that back straight away when Rublev hit just long. Another point against serve saw de Minuar serving at 2-1. Another mini-break and it was level at 2-2.
At 3-3 de Minaur again had a mini-break to serve two serves. He won both points to have three break-points at 6-3. It took just one and the Australian was looking good.
In the fourth set Rublev broke in the second game and then held for 3-0, he was however looking tired.
de Minaur broke for 2-3 only to be broken again. Rublev would level the match at two sets all.
Straight away de Minaur was on the back foot after dropping serve to love in the opening game. On the second point de Minaur just hit wide, meanwhile Rublev was finding the lines.
Rublev held to love before de Minaur could not close out the next game and he was again broken.
In the fifth game it became apparent that Rublev was struggling with the onset on cramps. Lleyton Hewitt was telling de Minaur to move his opponent.
Rublev managed to instead just hit hard and force errors from de Minaur or he hit winners.
In what would be the final game, we saw de Minaur with three break point opportunities, he just could not get the break. An Ace saved the first.
A big serve and then a forehand half-volley winner saved the next. On the third occasion de Minaur had a second serve and he hit it straight back to Rublev. The next shot was blasted back and de Minaur hit wide.
That would be the last opportunity he would have. An inside-out forehand winner brought up match point.
A Rublev shot just inside the baseline force an error from the Australian. After four hours and 14 minutes of thrilling tennis the match was over.
What might have been if de Minaur could just claim the last two games but credit to Rublev, he kept swinging hard and found the court when needed.
Again it was the first serve percentage that just was not good enough to win at this level.
“It’s a tough, tough match to finish up my campaign here,” De Minaur conceded. “Obviously had aspirations for more.
“(But) Andrey deserved the win. He played too good in the fourth and fifth sets. He kind of, in my eyes, just let go and started swinging freely, caught a little purple patch. It was too good in the end.
“It’s not a match that I thought I lost physically. It was just that the racquet was taken out of my hand. Got to a stage where I just could not get him moving or expose that movement. He was just standing and hitting from every single part of the court.”
“I started to say to myself ‘No, you’re gonna die today but you will do everything’,” Rublev told the crowd after the gruelling encounter.
“Somehow I started to play better and better and I found more energy and I was able to win.
“We’ve played a couple of times and all of them were dramatic like now. He’s one of the fastest players, the way he moves with the legs and he takes the speed, it’s crazy.
“When you play four hours, long rallies and you try to stretch … I start to feel a bit of pain but it’s normal after four hours with intensity like this. I was just trying not to think about it, just trying to push myself to do everything I could.
“Don’t cry, don’t start to feel sorry for yourself … just keep fighting and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”