Struggling with a back injury since the spring of 2018, Andrey Rublev lost all the momentum he had been building for a couple of years, dropping out from the top-100 and starting all over in 2019. The youngster needed time to find the form again, reaching the final in Hamburg and the quarter-final in Cincinnati and Winston-Salem, heading to the US Open with high hopes and passing the opening week with sole rock-solid tennis.
On Saturday night, Andrey took down Nick Kyrgios 7-6, 7-6, 6-3 in an hour and 51 minutes, advancing into the last 16 in New York for the second time in three years after what Greg Rusedski described as one of the most composed and impressive performances he has seen in a long time.
It was a high-quality encounter, with both players hitting more winners than unforced errors and Kyrgios who held himself together to avoid the usual tantrums that could cost him a suspension in the following weeks. The Aussie fired 30 aces but his second serve let him down, facing four break points and losing serve once to allow Rublev to move over the top after previously taking both tie breaks.
Rublev lost just 20 points on serve, taming his shots nicely to hit 34 winners and 14 unforced errors, coming back from 4-0 down in the second set tie break and sealing the deal with that lone break in the third set to find himself among the last 16 players.
They needed less than 30 minutes to deliver the opening set tie break after 12 swift holds and Andrey won it 7-5 after two unforced errors from Nick in the points when he lost the serve, building the momentum ahead of the second set where the returners had more opportunities.
Kyrgios saved a break chance with an ace at the beginning of the second set and squandered two break points in game six after two winners from Rublev (a lucky net cord on the second) who had a chance to move ahead in the next game when Nick landed two winners to erase break chances and stay on the positive side of the scoreboard.
In the tie break, the Aussie had a massive 4-0 advantage but it wasn't to be for him, missing an easy backhand at 5-4 and losing the breaker 7-5 after a deep return from Rublev in the 12th point that sent the Russian two sets to love in front.
Andrey barely lost a point on serve in the third set and Nick couldn't follow that pace, spraying a backhand error in the sixth game to find himself 4-2 down, allowing Rublev to seal the deal with four winners in game nine that pushed him over the top after a rock-solid performance from start to finish.