After Alexander Zverev's withdrawal, it's the 20-year-old Andrey Rublev who is leading the next generation line-up in Milan at the Next Gen ATP Finals. He is also one of the three Russians competing in the tournament (with Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev being the other two).
Speaking about his idols, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin, Rublev said, 'Kafelnikov and Safin are such big stars. I am very proud to be compared to them. They are a source of inspiration for our our future career. My aim is to reach similar results that can be compared to what Kafelnikov and Safin did in the past.
I hope that people will talk about a new winning generation of Russian tennis.' About the format of the event, he added: 'The idea of this tournament is to bring tennis into the future. I agree with the new concept to introduce new rules and to present a new tennis for a new generation of fans.' Rublev also commented on moving to Barcelona at the end of 2016, to train with a completely new team, led by coach Fernando Vicente.
'It was very tough to leave Russia but it was a necessary step in my career to continue my development. Firstly we were really working hard on my physique, to allow me to play much longer at the same level and at the same intensity.
I think I’ve improved a little physically, and now I can play a little bit longer. But still there is a long way to go,' said the world no. 37. ALSO READ: Chris Kermode: 'We are not messing with the game of tennis'