'Roger Federer needs to play the final every week to...', says Next Gen player

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'Roger Federer needs to play the final every week to...', says Next Gen player

Andrey Rublev’s 2020 started with victory. The young Russian tennis player, after many ups and downs, showed a marked improvement both from a technical and mental point of view. Slipped out of the top 100 due to several injuries last year, Rublev came back stronger than before and won two tournaments in January (Doha, Adelaide).

The long suspension of the ATP Tour, caused by the health emergency that hit the world, probably came at the wrong time for Rublev, who had taken the right path. One of the most important victories of Rublev's young career will certainly be the one obtained in 2019 against Roger Federer at the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati.

Rublev on Roger Federer

“It was an emotional and special match. As I’ve said many times before, I was (even) more impressed with Roger Federer. Imagine how tough it is for him, that every week he has to prove that he’s the best,” Andrey Rublev said on the sidelines of the Cincinnati Open 2020.

“We played third or fourth round, not even first round. How much attention (was there) on him because he lost. Even if I lose in the first round, I don’t have that much attention. No one really cares. With him, he needs to play the final every week to not have this attention that he lost.

So imagine how much pressure he has and every week he proves that he is the best in history. This is amazing,” Rublev added. “I was playing in fear,” Rublev said with a smile. “You cannot imagine when I was a set and break up, what was in my head.

I was shaking and I was not even able to drink water. But these are the moments for which we are playing tennis,” Rublev continued. Throwing more light on his nerves during the match, Rublev said that he did not even look at his team once as he knew even they would be nervous.

“I remember I was not watching the score and I was not watching my team. Because when I look at them I know they are shaking as well. I did not want to see anyone. It was only me,” Rublev said further. “Those emotions were one of the best and that is why we are playing tennis,” he added.

Rublev did not drop a set at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open and then added a second trophy the following week at the inaugural Adelaide International. In South Australia, Rublev battled through three-set clashes against Daniel Evans and Felix Auger-Aliassime before dominating Lloyd Harris in the championship match.

Rublev is the first player since Dominik Hrbaty in 2004 to win back-to-back titles in the opening two weeks of the season. The Moscow-born star extended his winning run to 10 matches by reaching the Round of 16 at the Australian Open (l. to Zverev) and also reached quarter-finals at ATP 500 events in Rotterdam and Dubai.