The last time Andrey Rublev competed at the VTB Kremlin Cup, he lifted the trophy as the sixth seed. But while his title aspirations remain the same, the magnifying glass has zoomed in closer on the Russian.
Rublev is the top seed at the ATP 250 this week, and instead of sitting at No. 31 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, he is a fixture in the Top 10, currently World No. 6.
“Of course it’s a lot of pressure, which is normal. Of course I think you cannot show your best performance every week and during 11 months, it’s super tough,” Rublev said. “I think only top players have enough experience, or [players] who are already a couple years in the Top 10, like Daniil [Medvedev]. They know how to handle these things better.
“Some months I am playing really well and am going really deep in tournaments. Some months I have not that great results and am losing a bit earlier. But still, I [have] managed to be all the year Top 10, which is the most important thing.”
The 23-year-old is constantly focused on improving his game, and that has helped put him in a good position to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the second consecutive year. But there is one thing in particular the eight-time ATP Tour titlist feels he needs to work on.
“For now, I would say the mental part. I think this is the main [thing] in my case, because the players who are better than me, they know how to manage all these moments much better than me,” Rublev said. “Game-wise since the Laver Cup, I am feeling really well. I am feeling that I am playing on a great level, I have great confidence.
“Maybe I didn’t do that well in Indian Wells, but still I feel that I am having a great level of tennis now and that is the most important thing.”
Rublev lost a tough three-setter in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open against Tommy Paul, but he battled hard alongside countryman Aslan Karatsev — the second seed in Moscow — to reach the doubles final in the California desert.
Three days on from that doubles final, Rublev will be back in match action on Tuesday 10 hours away alongside countryman Karen Khachanov against third seeds Luke Saville and John-Patrick Smith. Physically, it is a tough turnaround, but the two-time ATP Masters 1000 finalist is loving every moment of it.
“I’m really enjoying to play tennis, I’m really enjoying to travel, so for me mentally for sure it’s fine. But of course sometimes, especially now when I just arrived from the States here in Moscow and I have to compete already tomorrow, physically it’s tough, only because of the time difference,” Rublev said. “And this is normal, this is part of our sport sometimes and we cannot do anything about it. But the mental part I am okay, because I am really enjoying tennis.”