ATP St. Petersburg: Russian Rublev Reigns Supreme Against Coric, Wins Fourth Title of 2020
By Max Gao
(October 18, 2020) ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA (VIRTUALLY) — Despite a five-month suspension in the tennis calendar, Andrey Rublev continued his incredible breakout season on the ATP Tour, joining Novak Djokovic as the only two players to win four ATP singles titles with a 7-6(5), 6-4 win over Borna Coric.
In another dominant display of first-strike tennis, Rublev looked dominant throughout, exchanging routine holds with Coric until they arrived at a pivotal first-set tiebreak. While he found himself down an early mini-break, the 22-year-old Russian was able to dig deep when it mattered most, reeling off five points in a row from 2-5 down in the tiebreak to steal the opening set. In the tightly-contested, 60-minute opening set, there was hardly anything to separate both players, but it was Rublev who was able to play the bigger points more effectively, targeting Coric’s forehand in most of the baseline exchanges.
With the first set under his belt, Rublev continued to hold serve easily, which allowed him to put an undeniable amount of pressure on Coric’s own service games. In the end, the World No. 10 was able to earn a crucial break in the fifth game of the second, which he would consolidate for the rest of the set to claim the title in an hour and 39 minutes.
Having won the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow last year, the 22-year-old has now won 10 matches in a row on home soil. He now joins an exclusive list of standout Russian players who have won the championship in St. Petersburg, which includes Yevgeny Kafelnikov (1995), Marat Safin (2000-2001), Mikhail Youzhny (2004) and Daniil Medvedev (2019).
“I feel happy. This one is really special for me. I think this one is the most special for me, for the moment, and will always be special,” Rublev said, who also improves to 4-0 against Coric.
With the ATP Finals being held in less than a month, Rublev has also put himself in the best possible position to become the seventh man to qualify for London. With 3429 points, the young Russian increases his lead over Diego Schwartzman, who has 3180 points. Schwartzman currently holds the final qualifying spot, with Matteo Berrettini (3075), Gael Monfils (2860) and Denis Shapovalov (2830) trailing not far behind him.
“I know I have a really good chance to qualify, but still it is not 100 percent yet. This year I didn’t expect that I would have a chance, so in the end nothing is going to change for me,” Rublev reflected. “Even if I don’t make it, the season was really good for me anyway. If I make it, it is really good news. [It is] one chance to compete against the best players, to do my best.”
Coric, who lost to Medvedev in last year’s final, was hoping to go one step further in 2020 but admitted in his post-match press conference that he could not execute all of his tactics due to Rublev’s relentless hitting. “It’s not very easy against him to play any tactics because he just doesn’t give you space to do anything. He plays very fast, serves unbelievably good. I had some of my tactics, but at the same time, I felt like I could not really do it,” admitted the Croat.
“He was the better player today; he was playing great tennis. Yeah, I was a little bit unlucky there [at 5-2 in the first-set tiebreak]. I missed 2 or 3 shots by [not very] much, but that’s tennis. That’s how it goes. It was a good level of tennis, I think. I was serving very good today, the best in the whole tournament I think, from my side at least.”
Despite the disappointment of losing in the final for the second time in as many years, Coric had plenty of positives to take away from his tournament and will be looking to build on this result in his final events of the season.
Borna Ćorić on today’s final against Andrey Rublev: “He was the better player today; he was playing great tennis. Yeah, I was a little bit unlucky there [at 5-2 in the first-set tiebreak]. I missed 2 or 3 shots by *this* much, but that’s tennis. That’s how it goes.” #spbopen pic.twitter.com/zRJZNXb57a
— Max Gao (@MaxJGao) October 18, 2020
In the doubles final, No. 2 seeds Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin captured their first title as a team in St. Petersburg, defeating the team of Marcelo Demoliner and Matwe Middelkoop, 6-2, 7-6(4).
Max Gao is a freelance Canadian sports and entertainment journalist that is covering this year’s St. Petersburg Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow all of his reports throughout the week here and follow him on Twitter for live updates and exclusive, behind-the-scenes content from this year’s event: @MaxJGao.