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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday January 23, 2023

 
Andrey Rublev

Russia's Andrey Rublev saved a pair of match points to win a wilk encounter with Holger Rune on Day in at the Australian Open.

Photo Source: Getty

After completing a dramatic victory over 19-year-old Holger Rune, one that saw him save a pair of match points and rally from 5-0 down in the fifth-set tiebreak, Andrey Rublev was asked if he felt like he was on a roller coaster.

Tennis Express

“A roller coaster is much easier, man,” he replied with a smile.

That right there is all you need to know about the big-hearted Rublev, a fun character who loves to laugh, but one who can be so serious – and seriously intense – about his craft that he is frequently seen punching the strings of his racquet until they bleed profusely.

Such is the dichotomy of the character, but at his essence, Rublev is a giant teddy bear, one that has shown his character over the last few years by praying for peace between Russia and Ukraine, and appearing in a video with his compatriot Daria Kasatkina, and throwing the full weight of support behind her as she came out as gay last year.

One would think his karma is excellent, but he hasn’t been the luckiest tennis player in year’s past. There have been a lot of heartbreaks, and Rublev, a player who has worked so hard to become one of the elite players in the world in recent years, has lost all six of his Grand Slam quarterfinals.

On Monday in Melbourne, for once, he wasn’t left to rue his cruel fate. Luck was on his side, as was the relative inexperience of Rune, who served for the match at 5-3 in the fifth after rallying from two sets to one down, but couldn’t hack the pressure.

In a wild final set, Rublev lifted his game to save a pair of match points while serving to force a tiebreak, but it looked as though it would be all for naught when the Dane, bidding to become the youngest Australian Open quarterfinalist since 1990 and the first from his country to reach the last eight at the Australian Open, powered ahead 5-0 and 7-3 in the 10-point tiebreak.

But Rublev stormed back in the final set breaker, winning nine of 11 points before Rune hit back to save two match points to level at 9-9. The Dane's backhand winner to save the second match point was the stuff of dreams. If he had finished off the win it would go down as the shot of the tournament.

In the end it was Rublev's dream to realize.

"In my life I think I was never was able to win matches like this,” Rublev said on court. after clinching his victory, 6-3 3-6 6-3 4-6 7-6(9). "This is first time ever that I win something like this."


Rublev certainly had luck on his side as his return on his winning match point clipped the net cord and trickled over for a winner. He fell to his back and then quickly got up to apologize to Rune. The pair met at the net for a heartfelt handshake, before Rublev did his interview.

He was asked about his next match, which will pit him against either Novak Djokovic or Alex de Minaur.

“No one wants to face Novak,” he said. “I prefer to be in any other part of the draw.”

 

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