It was a year of breakthroughs for Andrey Rublev—first two Masters 1000 finals, first time winning 50 or more matches in a season, first win over a Top 2 player—and he polished it off a few weeks ago by finishing the year at No. 5, his first Top 5 finish.

Rublev is just the fifth Russian in ATP rankings history to finish a year in the Top 5.

RUSSIANS TO FINISH IN TOP 5 OF YEAR-END ATP RANKINGS
~ Yevgeny Kafelnikov: 5 times (No. 3 in 1996, No. 5 in 1997, No. 2 in 1999, No. 5 in 2000, No. 4 in 2001)
~ Marat Safin: 3 times (No. 2 in 2000, No. 3 in 2002, No. 4 in 2004)
~ Nikolay Davydenko: 4 times (No. 5 in 2005, No. 3 in 2006, No. 4 in 2007, No. 5 in 2008)
~ Daniil Medvedev: 3 times (No. 5 in 2019, No. 4 in 2020, No. 2 in 2021)
~ Andrey Rublev: 1 time (No. 5 in 2021)

Kafelnikov, Safin, Davydenko, Medvedev and Rublev are actually the only Russian players to reach the Top 5 in ATP rankings history at any time of the year, period.

Rublev broke into the Top 5 for the first time on September 13th of this year, after the US Open—and while he had success at the Grand Slams this year, most notably reaching his third straight major quarterfinal at the Australian Open, his biggest breakthroughs of 2021 may have come at the Masters 1000 level.

Before this year, Rublev had never made it past the quarterfinals of a Masters 1000—but he did it three times in 2021, reaching his first semifinal in Miami (falling to Hubert Hurkacz) and then his first two finals at Monte Carlo (finishing runner-up to Stefanos Tsitsipas) and Cincinnati (finishing runner-up to Alexander Zverev).

He had huge wins en route to both of those finals, too, taking out a No. 3-ranked Rafael Nadal in the quarters in Monte Carlo to tie his career-best win, then beating a No. 2-ranked Medvedev in the semis of Cincinnati for his new career-best win.

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With Medvedev at No. 2 and Rublev at No. 5, this is just the second time in ATP rankings history where two Russians finished a year in the Top 5, after Kafelnikov and Safin in 2000.

With Medvedev at No. 2 and Rublev at No. 5, this is just the second time in ATP rankings history where two Russians finished a year in the Top 5, after Kafelnikov and Safin in 2000.

The Russian also picked up his fourth consecutive ATP 500 title at Rotterdam in March, helped Russia to the ATP Cup and Davis Cup titles, won Olympic gold in mixed doubles alongside Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and finished the year with a 53-23 record, sixth place for most tour-level wins this year after Medvedev (63), Zverev (59), Casper Ruud (57), Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic (55 each).

It was his first time winning 50 or more matches in a year, too.

RUBLEV’S WIN-LOSS RECORD BY YEAR (tour-level)
2014: 1-1
2015: 8-13
2016: 3-5
2017: 21-18
2018: 20-23
2019: 38-19
2020: 41-10
2021: 53-23

Though 2022 is right around the corner, Rublev still has some tennis left to play in 2021 in the form of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi later this week. This is his third time playing the event, having fallen in the quarterfinals in 2017 and 2019. This year he’s the top seed with a bye into Friday’s semifinals, where he’ll play the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal match between Ruud and Denis Shapovalov, with any one of three Grand Slam champions—Nadal, Dominic Thiem or Andy Murray—looming in the final on Saturday.

“It’s really exciting to be heading back to Abu Dhabi and playing in front of the fans there,” he said. “They really know their tennis and make a real difference.”