‘Emotional’ World No.5 Andrey Rublev continues journey to the top as he takes to the court in Abu Dhabi

‘Emotional’ World No.5 Andrey Rublev continues journey to the top as he takes to the court in Abu Dhabi
In 2020, Rublev really hit his stride, scooping five titles and reaching the last-eight stage at the US Open and Roland Garros. (Screenshot)
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Updated 17 December 2021

‘Emotional’ World No.5 Andrey Rublev continues journey to the top as he takes to the court in Abu Dhabi

‘Emotional’ World No.5 Andrey Rublev continues journey to the top as he takes to the court in Abu Dhabi
  • The Russian tells Arab News about conquering his demons as he rose from 100 in world rankings to where he is today in just two years

If there’s one thing Andrey Rublev says he has learned over the years, it’s the importance of being honest with himself.

The Russian tennis star is proud of the tremendous progress he has made over the past three seasons, rising from 100 in the rankings at the start of 2019 to his current career-high No.5. But he’s also more than happy to get candid when discussing the tougher part of his journey so far, ready to face his demons head on, even if he has yet to figure out a way to conquer them all.

“In my case, it’s super tough because I’m a really emotional person,” Rublev told Arab News ahead of his participation in this weekend’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

“But maybe some other things for me are easier than for another person.

“I think it’s all about being honest with yourself, understanding the reality, accepting when you’re doing things wrong, not finding excuses. That’s the most important thing.”

If you watch Rublev during a practice session, you might often wonder how he could ever lose a tennis match. The 24-year-old brings an outrageous level of intensity to every shot he hits, consistently ripping his forehand with surreal speed.

In 2020, Rublev really hit his stride, scooping five titles and reaching the last-eight stage at the US Open and Roland Garros. The start of his 2021 campaign was equally impressive as he went undefeated to help Russia win the ATP Cup, made a third consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final at Melbourne Park, and clinched an eighth career title in Rotterdam.

He then made back-to-back semi-final appearances in Doha, Dubai and Miami, before featuring in a maiden Masters 1000 final in Monte Carlo. His second half of the year was not as consistent, but he still reached finals in Halle and Cincinnati and made it to the second week at Wimbledon for the first time.

Rublev says his biggest highlight of the year was securing the Olympic gold medal in mixed doubles alongside Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

“It’s something that happens only once in four years, and every athlete dreams about this and works super hard to compete in the Olympics. To win a medal is like a double dream,” he reflected.

“And in the end, when you’re there, maybe you don’t realize it, but then when the moment comes and it’s the final and you make it, it’s a surreal feeling.”

There was more glory for Rublev earlier this month as he wrapped up his lengthy 2021 season by lifting the Davis Cup in Madrid with his Russian teammates.

Still, in a year with many highlights and a career-best ranking, Rublev struggled to find his peak form in the latter stages of the season and crumbled mentally at certain moments. The Muscovite can have stretches where he is simply ruthless, but he can also suffer through mental lapses that end up costing him greatly.

When world No.1 Novak Djokovic faced Rublev for the first time in the ATP Finals in Turin last month, the Serb said he knew his opponent’s weakness and was prepared to exploit it.

“He’s the kind of player if something goes wrong, it’s difficult for him, he makes a lot of unforced errors,” Djokovic said after defeating Rublev in straight sets.

In the same spirit of being honest with himself, Rublev acknowledges that his mental stability during matches is something he needs to work on.

“I know this about myself as well, and he is completely right in this case,” Rublev said when told Djokovic’s assessment of him.

“It always takes time and it’s a process to control your emotions. In my case, it happens that maybe I control my emotions for five matches, but then for the next two or three matches I’m not controlling them.

“I’m doing better and behaving more consistently compared to last year, but if we compare that with the top players, it’s not enough, and that’s why I’m always saying I need to improve this aspect.”

Rublev did not say much about what went wrong for him in the second half of the year but generally described it as a transitional period, like a student who is getting accustomed to university life after recently graduating from high school.

“I learned that, in everything you’re doing, you need to set the right priorities,” he said. “If, for example, my priority is tennis, I need to do what is best for tennis. It doesn’t matter what I feel or how I feel or what the others are going to think about me.”

Rublev is “amazed” that he was able to finish the year ranked No.5 in the world, given he admittedly lost his way for a few months. “I can only be grateful for this,” he added.

He believes the key to making that extra step at the big events and the Grand Slams is to master the mental side of his game.

Looking ahead to 2022, Rublev isn’t setting any concrete targets, but he does have one main goal: “To improve as much as I can and to give my 100 percent from the person I am on that given day,” he said. “At the end of the day, I want to be able to say that I gave it my all and do that every day. That’s the main goal.”

Rublev commences his Abu Dhabi campaign on Friday against Denis Shapovalov, before Rafael Nadal takes on Andy Murray in a highly anticipated showdown at Zayed Sports City.


Ronaldo wants to leave Man United — reports

Ronaldo wants to leave Man United — reports
Updated 7 sec ago

Ronaldo wants to leave Man United — reports

Ronaldo wants to leave Man United — reports
LONDON: Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave Manchester United this summer if the Premier League club receive an appropriate offer, according to multiple reports on Saturday.
The 37-year-old Portugal forward returned to Old Trafford from Juventus last summer but despite being United’s top scorer last season, and third in the Premier League, the campaign was overall disappointing.
United finished sixth in the Premier League, missing out on Champions League qualification, leaving the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who has a year left on his contract plus an optional year, facing the prospect of playing in the Europa League for the first time.
Manchester United are adamant Ronaldo, who scored 24 goals in all competitions, is not for sale, according to reports, with new manager Erik ten Hag keen to work with him.
Ronaldo won three Premier League titles and the Champions League during six trophy-laden years with United before leaving for Real Madrid in 2009 and Juventus in 2018, collecting more trophies at both clubs.
United’s international players are due to report for training in the coming days ahead of flying to Thailand on Friday for the start of their pre-season tour.

Tsitsipas says Kyrgios has ‘evil side’ after fiery Wimbledon clash

Tsitsipas says Kyrgios has ‘evil side’ after fiery Wimbledon clash
Updated 03 July 2022

Tsitsipas says Kyrgios has ‘evil side’ after fiery Wimbledon clash

Tsitsipas says Kyrgios has ‘evil side’ after fiery Wimbledon clash

LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas said Nick Kyrgios has an “evil side” after a stormy clash at Wimbledon on Saturday in which the victorious Australian called for his Greek opponent to be kicked out of the tournament.
The bad-tempered match overshadowed the rest of the action on day six, which included the end of Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak and a routine victory for Rafael Nadal.
The mercurial Kyrgios prevailed 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) in an incident-packed third-round match on Court One.
The contest descended into mayhem when a frustrated Tsitsipas hit the ball into the crowd after losing the second set.
Kyrgios told the umpire that Tsitsipas should be kicked out of Wimbledon, recalling the incident at the US Open in 2020 when Novak Djokovic was defaulted from the tournament after hitting a line judge with a ball.
“You can’t hit a ball into the crowd and hit someone and not get defaulted,” said the 27-year-old, who received an audible obscenity warning during the match.
He kept up his verbal jousting with the umpire, clearly unsettling Tsitsipas, who was warned over the incident and later handed a point penalty for hitting the ball in frustration toward the back of the court.
The bad feeling bubbled up again in post-match press conferences, with fourth seed Tsitsipas saying it felt like a “circus.”

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas emotes after losing to Australia's Nick Kyrgios on July 2, 2022.  (REUTERS)


“He bullies the opponents,” said the Greek, who admitted trying to hit the ball at Kyrgios.
“He was probably a bully at school himself. I don’t like bullies.
“I don’t like people that put other people down. He has some good traits in his character, as well but... he also has a very evil side to him, which if it’s exposed, it can really do a lot of harm and bad to the people around him.”
Tsitsipas said he wished players could “come together and put a rule in place” to curb Kyrgios’s behavior.
“There is no other player that does this,” he said. “There is no other player that is so upset and frustrated all the time with something. It triggers it so easy and so fast.”
But Kyrgios laughed off Tsitsipas’s accusations, describing his opponent as “soft.”
“We’re not cut from the same cloth,” he said. “I go up against guys who are true competitors.”
He added: “I’m good in the locker room. I’ve got many friends, just to let you know. I’m actually one of the most liked. I’m set. He’s not liked. Let’s just put that there.”

Earlier, French veteran Alize Cornet took advantage of an error-strewn performance from Polish women’s world number one Swiatek to triumph 6-4, 6-2.
Swiatek never looked comfortable in the third-round tie, losing her serve five times and making 33 unforced errors.
The 21-year-old had not lost a match since her defeat to Jelena Ostapenko in February in Dubai, winning her past six tournaments, including the French Open.
“I know I didn’t play good tennis,” said the top seed, who lost the last six games of the match. “I was pretty confused about my tactics.
“As a solid player, she used that pretty well. For sure, it wasn’t a good performance from me.”
Second seed Nadal, chasing a rare calendar Grand Slam, beat Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to set up a last-16 match against Dutch 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp.
Australian 19th seed Alex De Minaur beat British wild card Liam Broady in straight sets and will play Chile’s Cristian Garin in the last 16.
Harmony Tan, who knocked Serena Williams out in the first round, demolished British wild card Katie Boulter 6-1, 6-1 in just 51 minutes to reach the fourth round.
Tan will next play 20th seed Amanda Anisimova, who came from behind to beat French Open finalist Coco Gauff 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-1 in an all-American tie.
Simona Halep, the champion in 2019, eased through to the last 16 with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Magdalena Frech.
The Romanian will next play fourth seed Paula Badosa, who defeated two-time champion Petra Kvitova 6-4, 7-6 (7/4).


England’s Casey confirms he’s joining LIV Golf

England’s Casey confirms he’s joining LIV Golf
Updated 03 July 2022

England’s Casey confirms he’s joining LIV Golf

England’s Casey confirms he’s joining LIV Golf
  • Casey, ranked 26th in the world, is the 22nd of the world’s top 100 golfers to join the new LIV circuit 

LOS ANGELES: England’s Paul Casey confirmed Saturday he’s making the jump to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, but the 44-year-old hopes to play the Open Championship before his debut on the breakaway circuit.
Casey, 44, is ranked 26th in the world, giving the LIV circuit 22 of the world’s top 100 players.
“I’m so excited,” Casey said in an interview during the live stream of Saturday’s final round of the LIV Golf Invitational in Portland, Oregon.
A lingering back injury forced Casey out of the US Open, and he noted that he hadn’t played a tournament since March.
Casey said he planned to make his LIV debut later this month at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey.
That will be the third of eight events in this inaugural LIV season.
First, however, Casey said he would “love to tee it off in the Open Championship in St. Andrews.
“I’ve already missed three majors so far this year ... and then you will see me at Bedminster.”
The R&A announced in June that players signed up to the LIV Golf series will be allowed to compete in the 150th Open Championship.
 


Sainz takes 1st career pole position for British Grand Prix

Sainz takes 1st career pole position for British Grand Prix
Updated 02 July 2022

Sainz takes 1st career pole position for British Grand Prix

Sainz takes 1st career pole position for British Grand Prix
  • Sainz set the fastest time late in the third qualifying session to edge Verstappen by just .072 seconds
  • First pole position, it's always special, and especially to do it in Silverstone in the wet,” Sainz said

SILVERSTONE, England: Carlos Sainz was fastest in the rain in Saturday qualifying for the British Grand Prix to earn his first career pole position in his 150th start.
He edged reigning Formula One champion Max Verstappen, who was booed by some in the crowd at the end of the session.
“Maybe some of them don’t like me, but that’s fine,” Verstappen said. “I don’t care.”
Sainz set the fastest time late in the third qualifying session to edge Verstappen by just .072 seconds. It was the seventh pole in 10 races for Ferrari this season, though Sainz teammate Charles Leclerc had earned the first six poles prior to Sainz’s surprise run.
“First pole position, it’s always special, and especially to do it in Silverstone in the wet,” Sainz said. “Kept it cool through the session and toward the end I decided to push.”
Sainz narrowly missed out on what would have been his first career win at the last race in Canada, when he finished just behind Verstappen.
Leclerc will start third, ahead of Sergio Pérez in the second Red Bull.
Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton qualified fifth for his home race as Mercedes seemed to have made progress with its problems of bouncing at high speed. His teammate George Russell was eighth.
As Verstappen spoke trackside following qualifying the boos were audible for the Dutchman. Verstappen and Hamilton collided in last year’s race, with Verstappen hitting the wall while Hamilton overcame a penalty to win.
The incident further heightened their often-bitter rivalry in a title race ultimately won by Verstappen, and turned some British fans against Verstappen. He was taken to a hospital for observation following the crash and complained that Hamilton showed poor sportsmanship by celebrating the victory as Verstappen was being medically evaluated.
The build-up to this year’s race has been dominated by former champion Nelson Piquet’s use of a racial slur and homophobic language to describe Hamilton in an interview which was filmed last year after the crash at Silverstone. The interview did not receive wide attention until this week, ahead of the return to the track.
Hamilton and other drivers condemned Piquet. Verstappen, who is dating Piquet’s daughter, Kelly, said Piquet had used “very offensive” language but added that the Brazilian was also “a really nice and relaxed guy” who was not a racist.
Leclerc said he felt his Ferrari was “competitive” but a mistake prevented him for challenging for pole position.
“I knew it was the lap where I had to put everything together and I didn’t as a driver, so I didn’t deserve to be on pole,” he said.


French player who beat Serena reaches 4th round at Wimbledon

French player who beat Serena reaches 4th round at Wimbledon
Updated 02 July 2022

French player who beat Serena reaches 4th round at Wimbledon

French player who beat Serena reaches 4th round at Wimbledon
  • The unseeded Frenchwoman is making her debut at the All England Club
  • Tan’s debut at Wimbledon came on Day 2 of the tournament on Centre Court

WIMBLEDON, England: Whether her opponents are tournament favorites or crowd favorites, Harmony Tan keeps knocking them out of Wimbledon.
First there was Serena Williams, a seven-time champion at the All England Club. Then came 32nd-seeded Sara Sorribes Tormo. On Saturday, it was British player Katie Boulter.
“I think I like grass,” said Tan, who won three straight matches at a tournament for the first time in her career. “I really like to play with some slice, volley, everything with my game.”
The unseeded Frenchwoman is making her debut at the All England Club. She has played at the French Open four times, reaching the second round once. She also played at this year’s Australian Open and again reached the second round. At the US Open, she lost in the first round in 2018 in her only appearance at Flushing Meadows.
On Saturday, Tan beat Boulter 6-1, 6-1 on No. 2 Court. She never faced a break point in the match and converted five of the 10 she earned.
Tan’s debut at Wimbledon came on Day 2 of the tournament on Center Court, the biggest stadium on the grounds. That’s where she eliminated Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, in three sets.
“It was really emotional for the first round against Serena, and after it was just play match for match,” Tan said on court. “Today was really good tennis. I don’t know why, but ... it depends (on) the day.”
Tan will next face either Coco Gauff or Amanda Anisimova. The two Americans will face each other in Saturday’s first match on Center Court.
French Open champion Iga Swiatek was scheduled to face Alize Cornet on No. 1 Court. Swiatek is the top-seeded player at Wimbledon and has won 37 straight matches.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was scheduled to follow Gauff and Anisimova on Center Court. Then Rafael Nadal, another two-time champion at the All England Club, was to play Lorenzo Sonego in the main stadium after that.