'Rafael Nadal was my idol, I practiced with him when I was 16,' says..



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'Rafael Nadal was my idol, I practiced with him when I was 16,' says..

Andrey Rublev established himself as a top-10 player a year and a half ago, securing his place among the elite players and standing next to his idol Rafael Nadal in the rankings. Rublev had to deal with injuries in 2018 and 2019, starting all over and becoming one of the world's best players after showing his full potential.

The Russian was among the most productive players in 2020, winning five ATP titles to crack the top-10 and secure the ATP Finals berth for the first time in a career. The Russian established himself as the top-ranked player in the season behind us, winning the Rotterdam title and losing the Masters 1000 finals in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati.

Speaking about his idols, Andrey mentioned the famous compatriot Marat Safin as the first player he liked to watch before Rafael Nadal became his idol.

Andrey Rublev honored his idol, Rafael Nadal.

Andrey recalled the first practice session he had with Rafa when he was 16.

The youngster experienced incredible emotions on the court and worked even harder after that to improve his game and become good enough to challenge the Spaniard and other rivals from the top. Rafa and Andrey have played three ATP matches.

The more experienced player scored two wins and lost their most recent encounter in Monte Carlo last year. Their first clash came at the US Open 2017, and Nadal earned a dominant 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 triumph in just over an hour and a half.

They had to wait for over three years to step on the court for the second time at the 2020 ATP Finals. Rafa grabbed a 6-3, 6-4 triumph in an hour and 17 minutes, never facing a break point and producing one break in each set to make a winning start in London.

Andrey took charge in Monte Carlos last spring, toppling the king of clay 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 en route to his first Masters 1000 final. "I liked the way Marat Safin plays, of course. As a child, Nadal was my idol. Now I periodically play and train with him.

I remember our first training session when I was 16 years old; I experienced incredible sensations and a wave of motivation; I immediately wanted to work even harder to challenge him and other players from the top," Andrey Rublev said.