Two years ago when he was 19, Andrey Rublev became the youngest US Open quarter-finalist since a 19-year-old Andy Roddick in 2001. And on Saturday evening, the Russian moved to within one victory of reaching the last eight at Flushing Meadows once again.
In a hard-hitting match, Rublev squeaked past Nick Kyrgios and the Aussie’s 30 aces 7-6(5), 7-6(5), 6-3 to reach the fourth round after one hour and 51 minutes. The 21-year-old upset No. 8 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round.
Rublev, who has not advanced past the third round at another Grand Slam championship, has enjoyed a resurgent month on the ATP Tour. At the Western & Southern Open, the two-time Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier defeated Roger Federer for the biggest win of his career. And the 2017 Umag champion has not suffered a letdown in New York, crushing groundstrokes relentlessly to reach the second week.
In the first set, both players dominated with their serve, with neither man earning a break point. And in the tie-break, errors cost Kyrgios dearly. The Aussie made errors he had not been making throughout the first 12 games, including a miss on a sitting backhand volley.
Kyrgios ripped a backhand down the line return at 5/6 that missed by centimetres — if by that much — to give Rublev the lead in the pair’s second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. Kyrgios triumphed in three sets last year in Moscow.
The decisive moment in the match came in the second-set tie-break. Kyrgios got off to a much better start, taking a 4/0 lead. But Rublev maintained his focus and with a big return on his first set point, he forced an error from the No. 28 seed. The World No. 43 earned the match’s only break in the third set and rode that to a victory.
Rublev will face No. 24 seed Matteo Berrettini for a spot in the quarter-finals. The Italian battled past #NextGenATP Aussie Alexei Popyrin 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-6(2) after three hours and 35 minutes.
Before Wimbledon this July, Berrettini had never reached the fourth round of a major. But now, the 23-year-old has done so at two consecutive Slams.
Berrettini showed his resilience in the fourth set, as it appeared Popyrin had seized all the momentum. The 20-year-old broke for a 6-5 lead after a 10-deuce game. But instead of showing disappointment, Berrettini dug deep to force a tie-break and then he closed out the match, striking 57 winners across the four sets.
Did You Know?
Rublev advanced to his first ATP 500 final last month in Hamburg, where he fell against Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili in the championship match.