Russian youngster Andrey Rublev overcame a personal tragedy to win the St Petersburg Open on Sunday.
Rublev, who lost his grandmother on Friday, defeated Borna Coric 7-6(5), 6-4 in the final to become the fifth Russian – after Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Marat Safin (won it twice), Mikhail Youzhny and Daniil Medvedev – to have won the home ATP-event.
“I feel happy. This one is really special for me,” Rublev said after winning the title. “I think this one is the most special for me, for the moment, and will always be special.”
“On Friday, I lost my grandmother so… it was really tough. I am happy that this is the way I finished the tournament and it is a really special tournament for me.”
The updated ATP rankings early on Monday declared that Rublev has become a single-digit rank holder for the first time in his career. It’s a perfect testimony to the stellar run the 22-year-old has had this year.
Winning at St Petersburg gave him his fourth title of the year, and puts him level with the number of events won by World No 1 Novak Djokovic in 2020 – though, the Serb did win the Australian Open.
He put on a dominant display against Coric, winning 80 percent of his service points (49/61), to add another title to his kitty in a year that has seen him excel. The Moscow-native had made impressive strides up the ranks in 2018, reaching a then career high of 31 before injuries forced him to withdraw from the tour temporarily.
Rublev fell out of the top 100 but then slowly started clawing his way back up the ladder.
He started this season, ranked 23, by winning back-to-back ATP 250 events in Doha and Brisbane. He then beat the fancied Matteo Berrettini to reach the US Open quarterfinal, where he lost to last year’s finalist Medvedev.
Ahead of his French Open quarterfinal finish he won the Hamburg Open by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final. And on Sunday, he truly stepped out of the shadows of his compatriots Medvedev and Khachanov by winning the title in St Petersburg and becoming the new World No 8.
Zverev, Djere win titles
Along with Rublev, Alexander Zverev and Laslo Djere also secured ATP titles.
The World No 7 Zverev faced young Canadian star Felix Auger-Aliassime in the final of the Cologne Open, winning it 6-3, 6-3. This was the German’s 10th career tour title, but first of this year.
Meanwhile, at the provisional ATP event in Sardinia, Italy, introduced this year, 25-year-old Serbian Djere picked up his second tour title. The unseeded World No 74 beat home-favourite Marco Cecchinato 7-6(3), 7-5 to win the clay court event. He had won his first tour title at the ATP 500 event in Rio last year, also a clay event.