AUS Open: Andrey Rublev defeated Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 to move into fourth round.© AFP
Ruthless Andrey Rublev dispatched veteran Feliciano Lopez in straight sets Saturday as the Russian moved closer to a quarter-final showdown with compatriot Daniil Medvedev at the Australian Open. The number seven seed continued his red hot form and crushed the indefatigable Spaniard 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 32 minutes to reach the fourth round. “The first set I was nervous but I felt better after that and was more confident,” said Rublev, who hit 33 winners and 12 aces. “I feel physically great. I haven’t played long matches here.”
The Russian plays 24th seed Casper Ruud next and remains on a collision course to meet fourth seed Medvedev with the young guns aiming to break their country’s 16-year drought in Slams.
“I have to be physically and mentally prepared against Casper,” said Rublev, who has a 2-0 record against the Norwegian.
“He is in great shape and there will be long rallies.”
The 23-year-old was in a dogfight early against Lopez with the canny veteran rattling his rhythm by repeatedly charging to the net.
The composed Russian remained unruffled and found his groove to hit the lines and thwart Lopez’s tactics.
Rublev submitted a masterclass in the second and third sets to down a weary Lopez, who won a five-set thriller over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego on Thursday.
The 39-year-old was playing in his record-extending 75th Grand Slam in a row and 19th Australian Open.
Rublev is living up to top-billing having reached two Slam quarter-finals last year at the US Open and Roland Garros in a breakthrough season that saw him win five ATP Tour titles, more than any other player.
He was also joint top of the list for most matches won, on 41 alongside world number one Novak Djokovic, and has started 2021 on a seven-match streak after helping Russia win the ATP Cup.
The last Russian man to win a Grand Slam was Marat Safin at Melbourne Park in 2005.
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