If anyone is happy about the calendar turning the page to a new decade so far, it's Andrey Rublev. The 22-year-old Russian, who captured his third career title in Doha last week, has won 12 of 13 sets to start 2020, and is looking like the favorite to win again this week in Adelaide.
When evaluating athletes, sometimes it helps to set aside the rankings and statistics and simply use one's eyes. An old player scouting adage goes, “you don’t always know what you’re looking for but when you see it, you know.”
When you see both Rublev and Auger-Aliassime play up-close in person, you know. Their technique is great, but the sound that echoes off their racquets when connecting on a forehand is something different, something special. The two future stars have played once before in 2018 at Umag. Rublev won, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3, in a magical display of ball-striking.
Their game plan is identical: find the forehand and let it rip. Rublev and Auger-Aliassime have the two biggest forehands of anyone under age 23. As soon as the point begins, so does the race to find a pure strike.
After a sluggish start to the season, losing in straight sets to John Millman, Dusan Lajovic, and Jan-Lennard Struff at the ATP Cup, Auger-Aliassime is finding his form, but it may be too little too late. Expect Rublev to advance in this forehand battle of the future.