The last remaining favourite continues to shine in his role at the 28. NOVENTI OPEN: Andrey Rublev, no.4-seeded, has reached the final. He defeated Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili in a high-speed semi final match 6:1, 3:6, 6:3.
If you know both players, you were looking forward to a duel of mighty forehands. Because, what they both get from their right arms, belongs to the strongest on the tennis circuit in general. But these duels were seldom in the first set. Basilashvili, called Niko, just wasn’t able to find his game. Rublev, on the other hand, was on the spot, played on a high level and let his powerful forehand lash speak for itself time and time again. One break for 2:0, one for 4:0. The game went past the Georgian. He then, at least, had a break point himself in the fifth game, but Rublev warded this off at 5:0 superiorly.
The Georgian, at least, won his first game, 1:5, after 25 minutes. After that, Basilashvili, two-times winner at Hamburg, had to have treatment. Seemingly his right leg was the problem. The No. 30 in the world received some stretching and massaging for several minutes, lying on a towel in front of his bench. The spectators were relieved because the match was continued. The tournament had started, quite unusually for him, in the qualifying. He had missed the registration deadline for the main field and had to play two more matches. But, lots of players appreciate the match practice when making the difficult switch from clay to grass. But all that didn’t help the former protégé of German trainer Jan de Witt against Rublev in the first set: 1:6.
The second set, however, was totally different. Now you could see them, the tough forehand duels. Basilashvili had arrived in the match. In the fourth game he sniffed at a break point, in the sixth game he then had it. Rublev, on the other hand, started to rant. When the Georgian got the break, his racket crashed on the grass. Shortly afterwards the score was 1:1 in sets. Later the Russian revealed that it is not Niko's forehand that he is afraid of but his backhand: "His backhand is one of the best on the tour and in a backhand duel I would lose against him. Therefore I preferred to attack his forehand."
The question now was: who falters first? First, it seemed to be the 23-year-old favourite, because the 27-year-old-coincidence qualifier’s backhand was getting good, too. But in the sixth game the situation changed. Basilashvili hardly got his first service though, made two very serious backhand faults and he received a break. Rublev was again as solid as to begin with. At 5:2 for the Russian the Georgian seemed to be at a loss completely and he was standing against three match points at 0:40. He ward them all off and shortened the difference to 5:3. Was there another chance for him? Andrey Rublev didn’t think so and was through to his first final on grass just three minutes later.
The Russain has won 8 of his 11 finals on the tour. How does he do that? "I don't know. I don't play in a different way oder behave differently in finals" he said. And then he added: "My last final in Monte Carlo I lost quite quickly."