'I played Rafael Nadal next, and I thought I'm out,' Andrey Rublev recalls



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'I played Rafael Nadal next, and I thought I'm out,' Andrey Rublev recalls

Andrey Rublev reached the first Masters 1000 final in Monte Carlo, playing well throughout the week and losing the title clash to Stefanos Tsitsipas. A few days before the final, Rublev took the Barcelona invitation for the next week, facing Rafael Nadal in the Monte Carlo quarter-final in Monte Carlo and expecting to end his run.

Meeting his idol Nadal for the third time, Rublev scored a rock-solid 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 triumph in two hours and 32 minutes to stun the 20-time Major champion. Entering the 16th Monte Carlo quarter-final, Nadal couldn't do much against an in-form young gun, who advanced to the second consecutive Masters 1000 semi-final after Miami.

Rublev got broken four times and stole Nadal's serve on seven occasions, dominating the scoreboard in sets he won to remain in the title chase. The Russian had 23 winners and 28 unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely and taking advantage of Nadal's over 30 unforced mistakes.

Rublev had the edge in the shortest and most extended exchanges, starting all over after wasting the second set's lead and sending the 11-time champion packing. Like in 2019 against Fabio Fognini, Nadal was miles from his best in the Principality, struggling behind the initial shot and hitting many double faults.

Andrey overpowered Rafa from the baseline in sets one and three and dictated the pace with bold and aggressive hitting to push the opponent's backhand to the limits.

Andrey Rublev thought he would lose to Rafael Nadal in Monte Carlo.

The Spaniard opened the clash with a double fault that cost him his serve, and the Russian confirmed the break with a hold for an early advantage.

Rafa broke back in game four to level the score at 2-2 before Andrey seized the third break chance in the next one to regain the lead. Serving at 2-4, Nadal netted a tired forehand to fall further behind and sprayed another at 2-5 to hand the opener to Rublev after 38 minutes.

With nothing working his way, Nadal sent a backhand wide at the beginning of the second set to find himself even further behind. Andrey saved a break chance in game four and created three opportunities in the one that followed.

Giving his best, Rafa saved those to stay within one break deficit and earned four break chances at 2-3, only to squander those and remain behind. Nadal repelled a break opportunity with a forehand winner in game seven and made a vital hold to stay in touch.

In the eighth game, the Spaniard used an open court to place a winner and pull the break back, holding at 30 in the next one to take four of the last five games. Hitting with more power, Nadal grabbed the second straight break at 5-4 to steal the set and force a decider, hoping for more of the same in the encounter's final part.

Instead of that, Andrey made a better start and scored a break in the first game before wasting two game points and netting a forehand to allow Rafa to break back. Nadal got broken again in games three and five to fall 4-1 behind and move closer to the exit door.

The Russian forged a 5-1 advantage with an unreturned serve and sealed the deal with a forehand winner in game eight to celebrate a great triumph and move into the semi-final.