Andrey Rublev: Can he win Indian Wells?

Andrey Rublev
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Before Russia invaded Ukraine with the intent of taking over the country, the No. 6 Andrey Rublev won Dubai. He said that when he is playing at the Grand Slams, that he has to pick it up and be more firm.

A number of the Russian tennis players opposed the war. The few who have talked with the tournaments, saying they are stunned, and a bit afraid. There is the possibility that if the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin continues to bomb Ukraine, then in the couple month, the Russian players may not be able to play tennis tournaments. That is true. 

Hopefully, the war will stop immediately.
Beyond that, Rublev has won 10 titles, but he has yet to reach the semis at the majors. The 24-year-old did reach into the ATP 1000 twice in 2021, but he could not win them.

However, he said that he wants to transfer his success to the Grand Slams. He is playing at the Indian Wells this week, and next week.

“First of all because you are playing in one place and you have every time one day off, even if you’re playing best of five sets, maybe you win match in three sets, which maybe take you one hour and a half can be easily, then you have one day rest. You have more than enough time to be fresh,” he said. “I can transfer this to the majors. The problem is that, in my opinion, my problem that sometimes I want something really badly and I cannot manage this emotionally so I need to find a balance to be more stable mentally, to be better mentally. I think it will come also that I will have chances to go deep in a Masters or Grand Slams. Even last year I did two finals of the Masters [in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati]. I had I don’t know how many quarterfinals the Grand Slams. I had a chance to be in the semis. But I didn’t manage it mentally and that’s why I couldn’t win that matches.”

In 2020, he won three titles, but he couldn’t push very deep at the slams, and do damage against the top 5 players, such as Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and the now No. 1 and fellow Russian Daniil Medvedev.

This season at the Australian Open, Rublev went down against the veteran, Marin Cilic in four sets in the third round.

When he won it in Dubai, he said that that he has to be more thoughtful on the court.

“If I want to be a better player, I need to improve a lot mental part because this is the main thing I’m doing worst compared to top five players. That’s the main goal,” Rublev said. “If you want to change some things inside of you, you’re the one who take responsibility. There is no secret about mental part and how to improve. All the best athletes on histories, all the best philosophies, all of them, they say that many times. It’s about you.”

He also mentioned that Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, another Russian, came to watch him play in Dubai. She also said that she doesn’t like the war. The No. 14 Russian Pavlyuchenkova is physically hurt and she cannot play until she heals. Both her and Rublev won the Tokyo Olympics in the mixed doubles.

“We have a great connection with her, especially what we been through with Olympic gold medal. Of course, after this it’s already like a story that will be forever with us,” Rublev said. “Even if we’re not going to talk to each other, we will always have great respect to each other, great feelings, because what we done. This is memory for all the life. If I will need any help, she can help me. Same thing other way, if she needs help, I will help her as well.”

Will Rafa Nadal win 20 Grand Slams or more?

©Mal Taam/TennisClix/CSM

A few days ago, I wrote that during the fall lots of people will debate whether Rafa Nadal will end up being the best player, ever. That is true. There are a lot of people who really like him, especially in Spain. Nadal is a terrific player, a very intense person on court, he competes and thinks on every point he plays. He now has 19 Grand Slam titles when he won the 2019 US Open, outlasting Daniil Medvedev in five very tough sets. 

Nadal is 33-years-old and he does get hurt nearly each year. But, this season, he didn’t destroy his body. Now hee actually rests, for the first time. At the 2019 Australian Open, he reached the final, but then the No. 1 Novak Djokovic crushed him. Nadal wouldn’t play for another month, and he came back, but it was pretty slowly. His legs weren’t quite there yet, with his sore legs.

And then it changed, in mid-May, winning Rome and Roland Garros. Nadal was more enterprising and stoic at the same time.

At Wimbledon, he lost to the fantastic Roger Federer in four sets in the semis. The Swiss loves grass, he has won it eight times, he goes into the net, very quickly. He can slide or hit elegant drop shots from the net. Nadal has won it twice, most notably in the 2008 epic final against the 20-time Grand Slam titlist Federer. The Swiss is the ruler of grass. Kind of.

Back on hard courts, Nadal was hooked in. He won Montreal and the US Open. Maybe he was tired a little bit, but he just kept pounding, minute after minute. 

He barely beat Medvedev, 6-4 in the fifth. The Russian is 10 years younger, 23 years. He doesn’t get exhausted at all, and he hits some wonderful shots. His big forehand and his hard backhand are strong. But he couldn’t step on Nadal. At the Slams, in 2020, maybe Medvedev can trip him up. But he has to wait until January.

However, he could face him again during the fall. There are some big tournaments coming, like Shanghai, Paris, the ATP Final and the Davis Cup final. That could be a blast again, with the No. 2 Nadal versus the No. 4 Medvedev.

Eventually, Medvedev will be able to beat Nadal because Nadal can’t beat the clock. That is reality. But, in the next three years, if Nadal is healthy, then the Spaniard can win at least a few more Grand Slams. How about 21 majors, or 22?