'It's a very good test to see where Rafael Nadal is', says former ace
by SIMONE BRUGNOLI | VIEW 3851
Andrey Rublev left injuries behind in 2020 and fulfilled his potential that took him to the Top 10. Rublev claimed all five of the Tour's leading ATP titles in the shortened season to secure a spot in the ATP Finals in London, making his event debut.
ATP premium. Eager to pick up where he left off after three ATP 500 titles and two Major quarter-finals, Andrey played his first game in London against 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal and experienced a 6-3, 6-4 loss in one hour and 17 minutes.
Rublev admitted that he had to deal with enormous pressure against his idol, wanting to show his best tennis on the big stage, but overwhelmed by the occasion and the rival across the net. The Russian wanted another strong indoor appearance after St.
Petersburg and Vienna, but couldn't find game A from him, especially on the return. The more experienced Spaniard had the advantage, losing 12 points in ten service games and never had problems with the serve. Returning Andrey's services with aggression, Rafa took a single break in each set to claim the 19th ATP Finals victory.
Nadal hit 16 winners and 11 unforced errors and left the Russian with 19 winners and 23 errors. Andrey could not return almost 40% of Rafa's services, adding too many errors and failing to impose his blows or get the rival out of the comfort zone.
Nadal held a significant 44-28 lead in the fastest rallies of up to four strokes, staying aggressive and returning Rublev's second serves from inside the court to gain the lead. The match started with five dominant serve turns on both sides before Rafa moved 4-2 after Andrey's forehand error.
A service winner sent Nadal 5-2 to the front before scoring three winners in game nine to close out the first set in 36 minutes.
Nadal will play in Abu Dhabi this week
Alex Corretja has warned Rafael Nadal that he will take time to get back up to speed as he makes his return from injury at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, which you can watch live or on demand on discovery+.
"He is going to get to the Australian Open and, when you have not competed for so long, these players are so good that they win many matches, but your body is not used to it and you get other pains in the shoulder or back.
He has to pick up the rhythm during the tournament. Rafa is already good enough for the first week of the Grand Slam to serve as a preparation. Before, maybe he didn't think so, but his level of tennis and his physique require that during the first week of a Grand Slam, he must find a good rhythm.
I think it would be nice to see him [play Andy Murray first in Abu Dhabi], because he is a very smart player who knows perfectly how to play against Rafa. I think playing with Andy can give him a necessary rhythm to play two-and-a-half hours in a very tough match, but at a pace that he likes.
With Thiem it might be too explosive. Andy is different, he plays fast, he plays defensively, on offence ... it's a very good test to see where Rafa is."