‘Rafael Nadal was my idol, practicing with him made me very motivated,’ says Rublev

Andrey Rublev had to deal with injuries in 2018 and 2019, starting all over two years ago and becoming one of the world’s best players after showing his full potential. The Russian was among the most productive players in 2020, winning five ATP titles at the beginning of the season and the closing stages to crack the top-10 and secure the ATP Finals berth for the first time in a career. Rublev has won 16 out of 19 matches so far in 2021, reaching his third straight Major quarter-final in Melbourne and securing the ATP Cup title for Russia together with Daniil Medvedev. Andrey won the fourth consecutive ATP 500 title in Rotterdam before two semi-finals in Doha and Dubai, keeping his place in the top-8 and having a chance to pass Roger Federer if he wins the first Masters 1000 title in Miami. Speaking about his idols, Andrey mentioned Marat Safin as the first player he liked to watch, with Rafael Nadal as his idol in the following years.

Andrey Rublev honored his idol Rafael Nadal.

Andrey recalled the first practice session he had with Rafa when he was 16, experiencing incredible emotions on the court and working even harder after that to improve his game and become good enough to challenge the Spaniard and other rivals from the top. Rafa and Andrey have played twice so far, with the more experienced player scoring both wins. Their first clash came at the US Open 2017, and Nadal earned a dominant 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 triumph in just over an hour and a half. At the ATP Finals last November, Rafa grabbed a 6-3, 6-4 win in an hour and 17 minutes, never facing a break point and producing one break in each set to make a winning start in London. Rafa and Andrey will compete together at the season’s second Masters 1000 tournament in Monte Carlo in April.

“I liked the way Marat Safin plays, of course. As a child, Nadal was my idol. Now I periodically play and train with him. I remember our first training session when I was 16 years old; I experienced incredible sensations and a wave of motivation; I immediately wanted to work even harder to challenge him and other players from the top,” Andrey Rublev said.

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