- 02 Mar 2021
The world No 8 came through a tough first set with American qualifier Marcos Giron on Tuesday to record a 7-6, 6-3 victory, setting up a clash with Murray, who battled past Dutchman Robin Haase in three sets on Monday, coming from 3-0 down in the deciding set for his first ATP Tour win since the US Open in August.
“Andy is a true legend and I have a really good connection with him,” Rublev said, as reported by the ATP Tour website. “I really like him as a person and as a player. He destroyed me once in the past (6-3, 6-0, 6-2 at the Australian Open in 2017). I’m sure we’ll have great, long rallies and it will be a fight.”
Rublev on a roll
Having won five titles in 2020, Rublev will be a big favourite for their match, with former world No 1 Murray still building fitness, strength and confidence as he continues his comeback from hip surgery in January 2019, which almost ended his career. The three-time Grand Slam champion is ranked a provisional No 115 on the strength of his win over Haase but believes he can still get back somewhere near the top, despite having a metal hip.
Rublev’s win over Giron was his 16th consecutive victory at Masters 500 level and is now 9-1 on the year, his only defeat coming against Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals in Melbourne.
“It was a very tough match against Marcos, a qualifier who’d already played a couple of matches before,” Rublev said. “It was my first match indoors and I felt a bit tight in the first set.”
Alex de Minaur won the battle of the Australians, beating John Millman 6-1, 6-4, while Hubert Hurkacz fought off Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 7-6 but eighth seed Stan Wawrinka was beaten 6-4, 7-5 by Karen Khachanov of Russia.