Andrey Rublev Can Build Upon a Promising 2017 Season

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Andrey Rublev

2017 was mainly the season of injury blighting withdrawals coupled with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer dominance, but rising star Andrey Rublev stepped into the limelight capturing his first ATP title, at Umag.

His season started off with a 2nd round Australian Open defeat to Andy Murray and it was the grind of the Challenger Tour for two tournaments after that. Early on in the season this 20-year old-ball pounder was growing in confidence. Often overshadowed by the pumping, Nadal defeating fellow Next Gen Star; Denis Shapovalov. These youngsters met for the first time in the Next Gen finals, where Rublev won a thrilling five (mini)-set encounter. He drew Shapovalov into a game of ping-pong and controlled the tempo at key moments. It was a match of high quality at the end of a gruelling season; it made even more people take notice of Andrey Rublev.
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Andrey Rublev v Denis Shapovalov rivalry is only going to grow next season

The above mentioned Andrey Rublev victory over his Canadian rival was a good start. They should have more encounters next year and the Russian needs to build upon his first service potency. Something that troubled him more in his group stage straight sets defeat to surprise package, Korean Hyeon Chung. The Korean then confirmed his current superiority in the final, as Rublev struggled to cope with his counter-punching style. This is something that the Shapovalov camp will have noticed. The next time Rublev meets the Canadian he may well face different tactics. This is going to be a Nadal/Federer type of rivalry with each player having to think outside of the box each time they meet, in order to gain any sort of advantage.

The victory over Shapovalov was a fitting one, as over the season Rublev has probably edged it in terms of promise shown and performances put in.
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Great chemistry with Coach Fernando Vicente

One of the key struggles for young players is having the right coach. Former world #29, Spaniard Fernando Vicente seems the right fit for Rublev. He keeps the youngster grounded, but also boosts his confidence when necessary, being that reassuring figure on the side-lines. Also, when allowed, such as in the victory over Shapovalov he provides calming and focused inter-game coaching.

Dimitrov & Goffin Scalps at US Open

Andrey Rublev was at his aggressive, chance grabbing best when he defeated Grigor Dimitrov and the recent Federer conquering David Goffin, at the 2017 US Open. All this was achieved on his way to a fourth round defeat to eventual champion: Nadal. Already, it looks like the fast courts of Flushing Meadows are a good fit for Rublev’s ping-pong style playing preference.
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The Future’s Bright

A year end ranking of No.39 will enable the Russian to automatically qualify for enough tournaments to allow him to hit the ground running in 2018. With Vicente keeping his feet on the ground and managing expectations regarding the improvements Rublev needs to make to his all-round game. The foundations are definitely there for a bright, Slam winning future. Next season could come just a little too soon for that. That said, an increase in ATP titles is likely and a continuation of the one-a-year ratio that started last year, is almost a given.

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