After an obligatory one-match clay season, Vasek Pospisil is back indoors and there’s no place he’d rather be. The Canadian has always despised clay, but judging by his 1-19 career record on the surface—and 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 loss to Matteo Berrettini at Roland Garros—he probably didn’t spend too much time sliding and gliding on the dirt following the US Open. There, he upset both Milos Raonic and Roberto Bautista Agut, until Alex de Minaur halted the 30-year-old in the fourth round.
Pospisil’s game is tailor-made for a fast, indoor hard court. After nursing his injured back to full health, Pospisil saw tremendous success indoors in February, where he earned wins over Denis Shapolalov, David Goffin, and Daniil Medvedev before the pandemic halted the 2020 season. He’ll now face off against newly-minted member of the Top 10, Andrey Rublev. It’s a bad draw for both players, but until the world No. 79 can raise his ranking to match his current form—and UTR ranking of No. 20—he will continue to be one of the most dangerous unseeded floaters in men’s tennis.
Pospisil got the better of Rublev at the 2018 Miami Open, but the Russian avenged that loss at the 2019 Davis Cup in Madrid, where he prevailed, 6-4, 6-4. They share a similar game style, but with one key difference. Rublev tries his best to avoid time spent at the net, while Pospisil will rush forward as soon as he gets the chance. Both players prefer to camp out in the ad-court, ripping heavy forehands both inside-out and inside-in.
It’s not an easy thing to do, but Pospisil will need to control his depth against Rublev, as anytime the Russian gets time to crack a forehand it’s bad news for his opposition. In this point from their Davis Cup encounter, Pospisil does well to keep Rublev on his back foot.
Pospisil has a good slice backhand, but he’ll need to hit it aggressively. If he’s unable to sharply direct it cross court, Rublev will send him to the races with his elite inside-in forehand.
The Canadian should do well to use his exceptional transition game and net-coverage to disrupt the Russian’s rhythm. No good will come from Pospisil engaging Rublev in lengthy rallies.
This match will likely boil down to a few key points, and probably a tiebreak or two, but expect the home-favorite, in the midst of a breakout season that has seen him lift three trophies and reach two major quarterfinals, to ultimately prevail.
The Pick: Andrey Rublev