FLASHBACK: The Break: Andrey Rublev and Daria Kasatkina speak out about Wimbledon, war in Ukraine, and more

Andrey Rublev has arrived in Paris this week to play the Rolex Paris Masters. This year, the 25-year-old Russian has won four singles titles and nearly $3 million in prize money. At stake this week for Rublev is a spot in the year-end Nitto ATP Finals, set to start in Turin, Italy on November 13. Rublev is currently ranked seventh in the ATP points race, vying with Felix Auger-Aliassime, Taylor Fritz, and Hubert Hurkacz for one of two remaining singles spots in that tournament.

Seeded seventh in Paris, Rublev received a first round bye and will begin his Paris campaign versus John Isner. Isner leads this rivalry, 3-0, most recently beating Rublev in Canada in the summer of 2021.

This week marks Rublev’s fifth appearance in Paris. To date, he’s only won one match at the tournament, and 12 months ago he lost in the first round to Taylor Fritz. Given how heavily Rublev devotes himself to tennis year-round, his late-season weariness is understandable.

But just over two weeks ago in Gijon, Spain, Rublev earned his 12th career singles title. In the final, he hit 29 winners and took 77 minutes to beat Sebastian Korda, 6-2, 6-3. Championship point was textbook Rublev—one deep drive after another in a 25-shot rally, capped off by an easy crosscourt forehand volley into the open court.


Inside the lines, Rublev has had moments where his emotions get the better of him.

Inside the lines, Rublev has had moments where his emotions get the better of him.

Power and intensity are the alpha and omega of Rublev’s playing style. The Rublev game in full gear is vivid testimony to what you might consider tennis’ most basic strategy: run your opponent ragged by hitting one groundstroke after another with sustained depth and pace.

It’s precisely what you’d expect to see from a man whose father, Andrey, was an Olympic boxer and mother, Marina Marenko, is a coach at Moscow’s famed Spartak Tennis Club, where she worked with such future pros as Anna Kournikova.

Yet as proficient as Rublev can be, he’s scarcely clinical. Perhaps this is where his father’s background in boxing surfaces. One of Rublev’s heroes is boxing’s quintessentially visceral champion, Mike Tyson. That tactile, sensate manner is naturally accompanied by a vulnerability and rawness that makes Rublev eminently human and likable. This is a man of exceptionally strong emotion and empathy.

Off the court, Rublev’s sensitivity to others surfaced earlier this year in Dubai. Following a third-set tiebreaker win over Hurkacz in the semis, Rublev approached the courtside camera and wrote the words “No War Please” on it.

“You realize how important [it] is to have peace in the world and to respect each other no matter what, to be united,” he said in Dubai. “It's about that. We should take care of our earth and of each other. This is the most important thing.”


But inside the lines, Rublev has had moments where his emotions can get the better of him. At this year’s US Open, Rublev was beaten in the quarterfinals by Frances Tiafoe. The American won the first two sets, both in tiebreakers. In the third, Tiafoe broke Rublev at 3-all. In his chair on the changeover following that point, Rublev burst into tears and soon lost the final set, 6-4.

And yet, while some players will never face up to their emotional shortcomings, in this area too, Rublev is raw and candid. His next tournament after the US Open came in Astana, Kazakhstan. In an ATP Media interview conducted there, Rublev addressed the state of his psyche and a personal tipping point that happened at the US Open. Two rounds prior to playing Tiafoe, Rublev had taken four hours and eight minutes to beat Denis Shapovalov, 10-7 in the fifth set tiebreaker.

“Everyone has their own weaknesses,” said Rublev in Astana. “My weakness is mental and little by little there are some improvements.

“[Before] I would already explode and because of that lose the match. But even in the moment it looks impossible to [maintain composure], I was able to do it. It was giving me a turning moment and I was able to win the match. I was feeling a bit proud of myself after the match, I’ll be honest. I showed on court I was better as a person.

“But I don’t want to focus on that. It’s like, ‘OK, go back to reality, and you still have this problem there—go fix it.’”


“Everyone has their own weaknesses. My weakness is mental," said Rublev who, according to coach Fernando Vicente (pictured), recently began working with a psychologist.

“Everyone has their own weaknesses. My weakness is mental," said Rublev who, according to coach Fernando Vicente (pictured), recently began working with a psychologist. 

It will be fascinating to see how Rublev’s career evolves. Likely there will continue to be many deep runs and titles. His public personality will also continue to emerge. Away from tennis, Rublev loves music, estimating that he has 6,000 songs on his phone, a spectrum that ranges from classical genius Mozart to heavy metal.

The sound and lyrics of his tennis game, though, are far narrower.

The simplicity of Rublev’s highly patterned playing style can make him predictable, a potential limitation that perhaps explains why he’s gone 0-6 in Grand Slam quarterfinal matches. In the late stages of a major, in a best-of-five set match, it can be extremely helpful for a player to trot out a new tactical wrinkle at a critical stage. But when you’ve climbed up the mountain as high as Rublev has, adjustments are tricky. Bolster the weakness? Enhance the asset?

How Rublev continues to balance and address those questions will help determine his fate. But if all that’s come before can be counted on, trust that Rublev will seek the answers with devotion and sincerity.