Cincinnati Masters: Roger Federer defeated by Andrey Rublev
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Andrey Rublev continued his fine form at the Western & Southern Open when he defeated Gael Monfils in Cincinnati on Thursday – but not before exchanging harsh words with his opponent. Now the world number seven, Rublev was ranked number 70 in the FedEx ATP Rankings when he last played in Cincinnati and embarked on a magical run to the semi-finals, defeating the likes of Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer.
In 2020, the tournament was played in New York due to the pandemic and the Russian fell in the first round.
With the tournament now back in Ohio, Rublev is fifth in the FedEx ATP Race to Turin and he wants to continue the momentum to try and claim his first Masters 1000 title after winning 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-5).
The second set was when the drama with Monfils began.
Appearing to be troubled by his left knee, the Frenchman sat down when 0-1 down and was visited by Paul Ness, an ATP physio, when it was one game apiece.
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Monfils also threw up into a courtside garbage can – but the 34-year-old insisted he didn’t want to see the doctor before the changeover as he didn’t want to ruin Rublev’s momentum.
“I don’t want to disturb him, I can take it. It’s fine,” the Frenchman uttered at 0-1 down.
After Monfils won the second game, Rublev took issue with how the Frenchman was claiming to be ill while playing high-level tennis.
“Not feeling well? Look at how he runs,” the Russian shouted.
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“Seven years! The last seven years, every time he starts to lose something is happening.”
Monfils pleaded with Rublev and apologised to his opponent for the incident.
“It’s nothing against you, I’m sorry, I’m very sorry,” Monfils said. “I said before I stop, for you, I want to play.
“I’m very sorry, but why do you have a problem?”
Rublev explained his frustration primarily stemmed from Monfils’ history of using physios and claimed the French star has used more medical stoppages than any other player on tour in the last five years.
When asked if he thought Monfils had made himself throw up, Rublev simply sighed and said: “It just happens every time.”
After exchanging words and talking it through at the net, the encounter ended after six minutes when Monfils and Rublev shook hands and play resumed.
In the match, Rublev won all 23 first-serve points in the first set as neither player forced a break point – but the script flipped in the second set, which began with four straight breaks.
There were six breaks in the set overall heading into the tie-break.
“It was super tough. It was really humid,” Rublev said after securing the win. “Gael was running super fast and it’s impossible to play short rallies with him.
“If you try to shoot every ball you will miss most of them and the match will be over in half an hour. So you need to take your time, stay in the rally and wait for the right moment.
Monfils retaliated with aggressive play in the second set, and served for the set at 5-3 and to hold a set point on Rublev’s serve at 5-4.
At 5-5 in the tie-break, Rublev hit an inch-perfect down-the-line backhand winner after a brilliant rally to set up match point.
Monfils double faulted to send Rublev into the quarter-finals.
Rublev will face Monfils’ compatriot Benoit Paire, who broke John Isner three times in the third and final set to win 7-6 (7-1) 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 to reach his first Masters 1000 quarter-final since his semi-final run in Rome in 2013.
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