Andrey Rublev survived a tough test from Jeremy Chardy 7-6(2), 6-7(2), 6-4 at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament on Friday to book a must-see semi-final clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas in Rotterdam.
The Russian, who held two match points in the second set, held his nerve to claim his third win in four ATP Head2Head matches against the Frenchman after two hours and 39 minutes. Rublev (44) and Chardy (36) struck a combined 80 winners, including 23 forehand winners each.
“It was a really tough match against Jeremy,” Rublev said in an on-court interview. “He is shooting really hard, he is serving really hard… [In the first-set tie-break], I played a bit better than him. He made a couple of mistakes. In the second [set], I didn’t start really well… I managed somehow to come back and then I didn’t make it when I had the chances. I had match points.
“We went to a third set and then I started really well. He played one really good game. I got a bit tight and… to serve for the match is not always easy. There was drama at the end. He had one break point but, in the end, I managed to win so I am really happy.”
Rublev’s victory extended his impressive winning streak in ATP 500 encounters to 18 matches. Alongside Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal, the World No. 8 is only the fourth player to record 18 or more consecutive wins at the level since 2009.
Most Consecutive ATP 500 Match Wins (since 2009)
Rublev’s winning run began at last year’s Hamburg European Open. If he is to keep the streak alive this week, he will need to defeat the man he beat in the final of that event in tomorrow’s semi-finals: Tsitsipas.
“I will try to do as much as I can to be ready for tomorrow… Stefanos also had two tough matches [this week],” Rublev said. “Yesterday he had three sets and today he had three sets. Now he has to play doubles. It is not easy.”
Earlier in the day, Tsitsipas survived his second three-set match of the week to reach the last four in Rotterdam. The Greek recovered from 1-3 down in the decider to beat Rublev’s countryman Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. Tsitsipas saved a match point to defeat Rublev 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(6) in their most recent ATP Head2Head encounter (Tsitsipas leads 3-2) at last year’s Nitto ATP Finals.
One of the themes of the first set was Chardy’s forehand success. The Frenchman struck 10 winners behind the stroke, with one of those shots earning him a set point at 6-5. Rublev found his best serves when it mattered most to escape danger and he took advantage of two double faults in the tie-break to earn four set points of his own. Rublev only needed one chance, as he forced an error from his opponent with a short backhand slice to seal the set.
Chardy responded emphatically to claim a 3-0 double-break advantage in the second set, but Rublev took the ball early and dominated the centre of the court to draw level at 4-4. From two match points down at 5-6, 15/40, Chardy fired powerful serves, ripped forehand winners and rushed his opponent to win 11 of the next 13 points and force a deciding set.
In similar fashion to the second set, Rublev channelled his frustration from the previous set to gain a 3-0 double-break lead. Chardy recovered one of the breaks with all-out aggression on his return, but Rublev eventually closed the match on his fourth match point with an ace down the T.