Rafael Nadal and Andrey Rublev scored victories in Monte Carlo on Thursday to set the quarter-final meeting, their third on the Tour. Nadal scored two wins against the young Russian and will be the favorite to repeat that on Friday, seeking the 12th title at one of his favorite events this week.
Asked about his idol Nadal, Rublev said it is never a pleasant experience to face the 20-time Major champion, although he is ready to give his best and fight. For Andrey, the week has already been a good one, and he will try to make it better against the greatest clay-courter in history.
Nadal had an easy day at the office against Grigor Dimitrov on Thursday, sprinting past the struggling Bulgarian 6-1, 6-1 in 55 minutes for one of his most impressive wins in the Principality. Grigor has been dealing with a tooth infection for the last couple of days, unable to sleep or eat well and having nothing in his arsenal to at least challenge Rafa.
Andrey Rublev will try to give his best against Rafael Nadal in Monte Carlo.
The Spaniard lost eight points behind the initial shot and delivered five breaks to control the scoreboard against the opponent who never found the desired level.
Thus, Rafa advanced to his 16th consecutive Monte Carlo quarter-final, hoping to win three more matches and regain the crown he lost two years ago. Andrey Rublev had to work hard to reach the last eight, overpowering Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6, 5-7, 6-3 after two hours and 44 minutes.
Rublev won only two points more than the Spaniard, with both players scoring six breaks and staying neck and neck in the shortest and more advanced exchanges. The opening set lasted for over an hour, and Andrey came back from 4-1 down to win it 7-2 in the tie break.
Bautista Agut scored a late break in set number two to steal it 7-5 and force a decider. Starting all over, Rublev grabbed two breaks in the final set to cross the finish line first and set thrilling Rafael Nadal clash. "Facing Nadal will not be a pleasant experience, that's for sure.
Still, I'm looking forward to that, and I want to play at my best. It has already been a good week, so there will not be a lot of pressure, but I will fight," Andrey Rublev said.