World No. 8 Andrey Rublev won't walk away with his biggest career trophy this week, but will depart London on a positive note.
Rublev dismissed third-ranked Dominic Thiem, 6-2, 7-5, on Thursday, finishing in style with an ace to end his memorable season with a 41-10 record. The first-time ATP Finals qualifier struck 26 winners to just nine unforced errors in defeating Thiem for the second time in three weeks after 74 minutes of work.
"I started really well, since the first point, the first return. I think Domi didn't start that well and I took advantage since the beginning," Rublev said in an on-court interview afterwards. "That helped me to have more confidence, helped me to play better and better and be more released. I think he also focused already for the semis and I wish him the best of luck. He deserves to be where he is."
The 23-year-old Russian won five titles in 2020 and also lifted his ranking by 15 spots to set a career-high mark. That allowed him to qualify for the season-ending event this week.
"I cannot complain," he told press at the ATP Finals. "I won so many tournaments that I never won before. This year, I won more tournaments than in my career. I won more matches than in my career. I became Top 10 for the first time, so this season was amazing for me."
His title wins include three ATP 500 events in Hamburg, St. Petersburg and just two weeks ago in Vienna.
Earlier this week, Rublev fell to Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas in his first two rounds of round-robin play, preventing him from qualifying for the semifinals. Against Tsitsipas, Rublev held a match point on his serve in their final set tiebreaker, but double-faulted. Nevertheless, he has enjoyed his first time at the elite eight-player tournament.
"It is a great experience because this event gives you chances to play against the best players and you have to use all of them," he said. "Still I have to play my maximum because it is the best players and I need to perform my best."