Madrid | Rublev surmounts illness and Auger Aliassime to take title

Andrey Rublev collected his second Masters 1000 title by overcoming not only Felix Auger Aliassime, but a debilitating persistent illness which had been affecting him all week, to win the Madrid Open in a nerve-wracking, two-hour and 48-minute, three-setter.

I would say this is the most proud title of my career, I was almost dead every day. I was not sleeping at night. The last three, four days I didn't sleep Andrey Rublev

For the 26-year-old Russian, seeded 7 for the event, the win has come at the right time for he arrived in the Spanish capital having lost four consecutive matches so his prospects of making an impact on the event were minimal. Not so now for the French Open which starts on May 26.

He has proved everyone wrong with a run which included a three-set quarter final win over the world No.3 and defending champion, Carlos Alcaraz!

At first the final looked to be a one-sided affair with Auger Aliassime taking control with some impressive serving pocketing the first four games against a listless and pale looking opponent.

For the 23-year-old Canadian, a former world No.5, the past year has had many ups-and-downs which is reflected in his current ranking of 35.

And his arrival in the final was also somewhat bizarre in a six-match run which included two retirements and a walkover.

With just three wins to his credit in Madrid, the final was a good opportunity to re-establish himself and in that opening set, he certainly was the dominant player, despite Rublev fighting back and earning a break point in the ninth game of the opening set.

In the final game of the opener, the Canadian hit an unstoppable serve, following it up with a simple volley at the net to bring up a second set point, which he took easily.

Rublev had managed to work off some of the lethargy and approached the second set with more authority as he responded to the urgency from the coaches in his box.

The set was dominated by the serve with Rublev’s improving as the set wore on to open the court and get his forehand working effectively.

At 5-4 Rublev was closing in on taking the match all the way but Auger-Aliassime held to love much to the frustration of the Russian who was now becoming voluble. He did eventually force a decider by pocketing the next two games.

The third was virtually a mirror image of the second except that Rublev’s confidence was now very much on the rise while Auger Aliassime’s was waning.


Felix Auger-Aliassime gates another massage during a changeover

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

However the Canadian held his higher ranked opponent at bay for much of the decider but he was now feeling it physically requiring regular massages during change-overs.

He attempted to keep the points short but Rublev’s focus held and he won the battle of nerves. At 30-all the pair were fast approaching a tie break but his fifth double-fault in the final moments handed Rublev an emotional victory in what was a remarkable turnaround.

“No words. If you knew what I have been through the last nine days, you would not imagine that I would be able to win a title. I’m incredibly happy,” an elated Rublev said.

“I’m incredibly happy. That one week changed everything because now it looks like I was not losing the last weeks in the first round!

“I have to give full credit to the doctors. They were doing some tricky things and I was able to at least be able to play.

“I would say this is the most proud title of my career,” Rublev said. “I was almost dead every day. I was not sleeping at night. The last three, four days I didn’t sleep.”


Felix Auger-Aliassime poses alongside Andrey Rublev following their nerve-wracking final

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)



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