Andrey Rublev made a breakthrough run in 2020, winning the Tour-leading five ATP titles and adding 41 ATP wins to his tally. The Moscow native cracked the top-10 and secured the ATP Finals debut, winning three consecutive ATP 500 titles after the season restart and reaching back-to-back Major quarter-finals in New York and Paris!
Eager to show his best tennis on the big scene, Andrey played his first London match against the 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal and suffered a 6-3, 6-4 loss in an hour and 17 minutes. In the recent interview, Rublev admitted he had to deal with massive pressure against his idol, eager to show his best tennis but unable to hide emotions.
The Russian wished for another strong indoor run after St. Petersburg and Vienna, failing to bring the same level against Rafa and struggling a lot, especially on the return. Nadal had the upper hand from start to finish, losing 12 points in ten service games and never experiencing troubles in his games.
Returning Rublev's serves with aggression, Rafa grabbed a single break in each set to claim the 19th ATP Finals victory and make the campaign's strong start. The more experienced player hit 16 winners and 11 unforced errors, leaving the Russian on 19 winners and 23 mistakes.
Andrey Rublev knew he had to control emotions to stand a chance against Rafael Nadal.
Andrey failed to return almost 40% of Rafa's serves and sprayed too many errors in attempts to impose his strokes and move the opponent from the comfort zone.
Nadal had a significant 44-28 advantage in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, staying aggressive and returning Rublev's second serves from inside the court to gain the instant advantage. The encounter kicked off with five commanding holds on both sides before Rafa moved 4-2 up following the Russian's forehand error.
A service winner sent Nadal 5-2 in front before landing three winners in game nine to close the opener in 36 minutes. The Spaniard clinched a break in the second set's first game for an early advantage, holding after deuce with a service winner to cement the advantage.
A service winner pushed Nadal 4-2 up, and he brought the tenth game home at 15 to cross the finish line and make a strong start in London. Rublev would waste a match point in the second encounter versus Stefanos Tsitsipas, beating Dominic Thiem in the final match of the season for his first ATP Finals triumph.
"I couldn't handle the pressure against Rafael Nadal on my ATP Finals debut. I knew I was finished as soon as I showed emotions in the encounter's opening games," Andrey Rublev said.