A day after stunning 11-time Monte Carlo champion Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, Andrey Rublev beat Casper Ruud, 6-3, 7-5, to reach the biggest final of his career at the Masters 1000 event.
He’ll take on Stefanos Tsitsipas, against whom he’s 3-3, for the biggest title of his career.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Rublev said afterwards. “It’s my first final in a Masters 1000, so I’m really happy, and we’ll see what’s going to happen. I’m going to try to do my best—not much else to say.”
Though the final score between Rublev and Ruud was straight sets, there were some big momentum swings. Ruud actually came out looking the sharper of the two, breaking at love for 2-1—from there it was all Rublev for half an hour as he won seven of the next eight games to build a 6-3, 2-0 lead. Then there was another big shift as Ruud won the next four games in a row to lead 4-2 in the second set.
But Rublev caught fire one last time, winning five of the last six games—he even hit five winners in the last six points of the match, sealing the victory with one last forehand blast into the open court.
“Casper is a really amazing player, especially on clay, and since the beginning he put really high intensity,” Rublev said. “It was really tough. He started up with the break, and I knew that I needed to raise my level if I was to fight against him, because if I didn’t raise my level I would lose for sure.
“I needed to raise my speed, I needed to hit harder, otherwise I had no chance. And I started to do that, and I started to play better, and he started to miss a bit more. I think that was the key today.”
The Russian finished the match with a positive differential of winners to unforced errors, 21 to 19, and his groundstrokes were equally lethal—he had nine winners off both the forehand and the backhand.
The Norwegian, meanwhile, had 11 winners to 26 unforced errors on the day.
Rublev is now through to his first Masters 1000 final. His biggest finals before this were five ATP 500 finals, winning four of those—Hamburg, St. Petersburg and Vienna last year, and Rotterdam this year.
The Russian is 3-3 against Tsitsipas. He’s 1-1 against the Greek on clay, both meetings coming last year. He also won their only previous meeting this year, 6-3, 7-6 (2), on indoor hard in the Rotterdam semis.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Rublev said of his looming encounter against Tsitsipas.
“I hope we can show a great level, and that people will enjoy it.”
In addition to the biggest title of his career, there’s something else on the line for Rublev on Sunday—he’s already projected to rise from No. 8 to a new career-high of No. 7 by reaching the final in Monte Carlo, but if he lifts the trophy, he’ll go one better, setting an even better new career-high of No. 6.