Andrey Rublev and Roger Federer met for the first time in Cincinnati 2019, with the young gun showing no fear against the legend on the other side of the court. The Russian mentioned how natural and grounded Roger was in the defeat, which impressed the youngster.
Two years ago, Roger failed to reach the Cincinnati quarter-final for the first time since 2008 following a 6-3, 6-4 loss to a qualifier Andrey Rublev in 61 minutes! Standing as one of the upcoming stars in 2016 and 2017, Rublev suffered a nasty back injury in the spring of 2018.
The Russian stayed away from the court for a couple of months and lost momentum and ranking positions before he started all over in 2019. Rublev advanced to the first Masters 1000 quarter-final in Cincinnati that year, outplaying Federer in almost every department to deliver a career-best victory that gave him a massive boost.
Dropping 15 points in ten service games, Rublev fended off two out of three break points and stole 40% of the return points for three breaks which carried him over the top in a quick fashion. Firing 17 winners and six unforced errors, Andrey tamed his shots nicely and left Roger behind despite 20 winners and 19 mistakes from a multiple champion.
Landing one bold stroke after another, Rublev took charge in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, outplaying Roger 43-34. The Russian also had a 16-10 lead in the more extended exchanges to seal the deal in style and advance into the last eight.
Andrey broke at 15 in the second game following Federer's loose backhand before giving serve away in the next one when his forehand landed long. Determined to give his best, Rublev fired a forehand winner to secure the second break and open a 3-1 lead.
Andrey Rublev spoke about impressive victory over Roger Federer in Cincinnati 2019.
This time, he made no errors while cementing the lead, landing a service winner to move 5-2 up and closing the opener with three winners in game nine for 6-3 after swift 28 minutes.
Federer never found the desired pace in the return games, taking only four points in Andrey's games in set number two to drift away from the break chances and mount pressure on his side of the net. The Swiss brought the fifth game home with a service winner before Andrey broke him at 3-3 thanks to a deep return, forging the advantage and taking a massive step towards the finish line.
Rublev confirmed the lead with a hold at 15 and served for the triumph at 5-4. Showing no sign of nerves, he held at 15 after forcing Roger's error to emerge as a winner and wrap up one of his finest performances on the Tour.
"I was in a state of shock when I beat Roger, but also because I put myself in his place and imagined the harshness of that defeat for him. Players from the top have to endure so much pressure because they can't lose and decrease themselves in the media.
They have to reach the final in every tournament, and Roger has been doing it for many years. He impacted me even more than my victory; his behavior, his attitude, and the way he accepted it. I felt like I have beaten a true legend," Andrey Rublev said.