There’s no doubt Andy Murray will be the sizzle when the sneakers start to squeak at $ 600,000 San Diego Open, given his trio of Grand Slam singles crowns.
Make no mistake: Andrey Rublev, a 23-year-old Russian with unruly red hair, is the steak.
The rising star of the ATP Tour who slept with his racket as a child, who also speaks English and Spanish, who shares the current must-have music between Imagine Dragons and Iron Maiden, is himself a legitimate who’s-who.
Rublev rose to 5th in the world as he packs his bags for San Diego.
“I want to reach number 1,” Rublev said in a recent interview. “I think it’s normal for all tennis players when they’re young. I would like to reach the highest position. We’ll see if that happens or not.
Smart money runs strongly against “or not”.
interference in the Top 5 Rublev square, barely a name known beyond tennis circles, ahead of childhood idol Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Rublev has become an overwhelming monster on hard court, winning the fifth most games since 2018 – also ahead of Nadal and Federer – and just seven behind the Grand Slam schedule flirting Novak Djokovic. All six hard court titles during that span are tied with Federer for No.5 on the tour.
In 2020, Rublev was tied to a vapor trail from the start. He became the first player since 2004 to win back-to-back titles in the first two weeks of the season. He led the Tour with five titles and tied for most wins (41).
When the main draw begins on Monday at the Barnes Tennis Center, Rublev will be the highest-ranked player in the tournament.
“To be honest I didn’t think that way,” Rublev said of past legends in the rankings. “I didn’t think if I was going to pass them or when I was going to pass them. Rafa and Roger, Novak play for different things. They’re not playing to be in the Top 25.
“For them, it doesn’t matter if they’re No. 3 in the world. They play for records and slams.
Rublev, it seems, has maintained his maturity and focus despite the rocket he is attached to. When asked what a big fool he did when he started using real money, in a career that is nearly $ 9.4 million, he stopped himself.
Buying a villa on the Black Sea? Getting into an Aston Martin? Build a zoo in the backyard?
“When I reached my first quarter (final) at the US Open (2017) I was able to cover my expenses for the year,” said Rublev, who became the youngest to reach that round. ‘an Open since Andy Roddick in 2001. “Maybe that year I bought a jacket or sneakers or things like that.”
At 6-2 and 165 pounds, the gangly Rublev hits with a towering forehand that belies his size. Part of the reason for this was plunging into the sport with such youthful exuberance that he often found his racket in his bed at dawn.
The closer the racquet got, the faster he could run to the courts.
“I was in love,” Rublev said of tennis. “I would watch the best games and, I don’t know, because I wanted so badly to train the next morning.”
Now people are watching him.
As its position in the sport grows, so does public awareness. A late-night Russian broadcast saw Rublev playing table tennis against members of the public. A Barcelona Twitter account called “The Precious Members of Andrey Rublev” describes itself as “dedicated to Andrey Rublev’s arms and legs. No objectification, just love and worship.
Instagram’s fan pages stretch from Mexico to Vietnam.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Rublev said of the strangest part of his public personality. “Now I have a nickname on Instagram because of the way I scream on the pitch.”
Rublev enjoyed an unforgettable contact with tennis fame along the way.
In 2014, at the age of 16, Rublev’s mother tennis coach took him to the popular Spanish holiday destination of Mallorca. Someone walked up with a breathtaking question.
A Russian connection asked if she would like to practice with Nadal.
“I said, ‘Of course,’” Rublev said. “I was more nervous about doing something wrong or talking too much. So, I was trying to give it a lot of space. I was shy and scared to do something that maybe would make her feel like I was a little bit crazy.
“But I was really excited. I have tried to give the best of myself with every workout.
This level of respect? These days, the feeling could be mutual.
San Diego Open
What: It is one of 10 ATP tournaments in the United States this year and the first ATP tournament of this level ever held in San Diego.
Wallet and points: $ 600,000, including $ 92,515 for the champion; 250 points in the ATP ranking.
When: Qualifications, Saturday-Sunday. Four players advance to the main draw, which begins Monday. The tournament ends on Sunday October 3.
Or: Barnes Tennis Center, 4490 W. Point Loma Blvd. Bleachers have been added for 2,000 seats on the center court and 400 on the adjacent court.
Field: 28 singles players; 16 doubles teams. Based on player rankings (eight in the Top 20), this is the second strongest ATP 250 tournament of the season.
Top 5 seeds (world ranking): 1. Andrey Rublev, Russia (5); 2. Casper Ruud, Norway (10); 3. Félix Auger-Aliassime, Canada (11); 4. Denis Shapovalov, Canada (12); 5. Hubert Hurkacz, Poland (13.)
Wildcards: Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray (Great Britain) is at the head of the contingent of three wild-card entries. He placed No.1 in 2016, when he finished the year with a 24-game winning streak. His Wimbledon titles came in 2013 and 2016. Kei Nishikori of Japan and Rancho Santa Fe’s Brandon Nakashima also won wild card spots.
Local angle: Nakashima, 20, is currently ranked 85th, down from 166th last year. He reached the second round of this year’s US Open with a surprise victory over 19th John Isner in three sets. Taylor Fritz, 23, a native of Rancho Santa Fe, qualified for the main draw with her ranking of 39th. He currently lives in Rancho Palos Verdes. Zach Svajda, 18, of San Diego, competes in qualifying after qualifying for the second round of this year’s US Open. He earned a spot in the US Open main draw by winning his second title at the USTA 18 Boys National Championships in early August.
Tickets: Prices include $ 20 for a daily pass, $ 30 for an unreserved daily bleacher seat, and $ 99 for VIP per session over the last weekend.
Car park: $ 20 at Liberty Station with shuttle to the site, VIP parking only on site.
In line: barnessdopen.com
– GLAE THIEN