Young Russian Andrey Rublev defeated fourth seeded Italian Paolo Lorenzi 6-4, 6-2 in the final of the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag on Sunday to capture his first ATP World Tour title, becoming only the seventh lucky loser to win an ATP World Tour title.
The 19-year-old made his way through to the last round of qualifying before suffering a 3-6, 5-7 loss to Hungarian Attila Balazs, ranked almost 80 places lower than Rublev. However, luck was on the side of the ATP NextGen star as he was awarded a lucky loser position in the main draw after sixth seed Borna Coric withdrew complaining of neck pain.
Rublev stated, “It’s amazing. I have no words to explain it, especially after this tough week. Now I’m here and it’s amazing.” This caps off a breakthrough performance for the rising star, who had beaten defending champion Fabio Fognini earlier, as well as hometown hopeful Ivan Dodig in the final four, to reach his maiden ATP World Tour final.
Matched against Lorenzi for the first time, Rublev controlled the match from the start, racing to a 4-1 opening set lead. The two breaks of serve were too much to overcome for the Italian as Rublev closed out the first set 6-4, showing impressive poise on the big stage. Ranked over 60 places higher than Rublev, Lorenzi wasn’t going to lay down and accept defeat. The match favourite started the second set strongly gaining a 2-1 lead. However, the young blood was too strong, reeling off the next five games in quick succession to capture the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag title in stunning fashion.
Rublev became the first Russian to win in Umag since Nikolay Davydenko back in 2009. With this performance Rublev also becomes the first lucky loser to win a title since 2009, when Rajeev Ram triumphed in Newport, and only the seventh to do so in ATP history.
The right-hander will gain a valuable 250 ATP Ranking points which will catapult him to a career high ranking on Monday. Rublev is also projected to break into the Top 3 in the Emirates ATP Race to Milan, placing him in good stead to compete at the inaugural NextGen ATP Finals at the end of the year. The Russian has shown that he is among the best of the young talent on circuit, rising steadily through the ATP ranks in recent months. We can definitely expect to see a lot more from this 19-year-old in the future as he has already achieved so much in his relatively short career.