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May 5, 2024 4:46 pm

Andrey Rublev conquers Felix Auger-Alisassime, fever for Madrid title

Andrey Rublev

Seventh-seeded Andrey Rublev captured his second ATP title of the year and 16th of his career by outlasting Felix Auger-Aliassime 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 on Sunday in the championship match of the Mutua Madrid Open.

The Russian, 26, also collected his second ATP Masters 1000 title over his better-rested Canadian opponent in a match that lasted two hours, 49 minutes.

Rublev entered the tournament on a four-match losing skid, and he also dealt with a fever over the course of his time in Spain.

“I have no words. If you knew what I had been through in the past nine days you would not imagine that I would be able to win a title,” Rublev said. “I’m incredibly happy. That one week changed everything because now it looks like I was not losing the last weeks in the first round!

“I have to give full credit to the doctors. They were doing some tricky things and I was able to at least be able to play.”

Auger-Aliassime, seeking his sixth tour-level crown and his first ATP Masters title, had advanced to the final after Czech 30th seed Jiri Lehecka bowed out due to an apparent back injury with their semifinal match tied 3-3 in the first set. Auger-Aliassime, 23, had a walkover in the quarterfinals after top-seeded Jannik Sinner withdrew from the tournament with a hip injury.

Rublev, who also won this year in Hong Kong, reached the final after defeating second seed Carlos Alcaraz of Spain in the quarterfinals and American Taylor Fritz in the semifinals.

Auger-Aliassime had the better start Sunday, breaking Rublev in the first game and firing 14 winners to take the opening set.

The Russian had a comeback in him, as he connected on 80 percent of his first-serve points (20 of 25) in the second set — up from 62 percent (13 of 21) in the first set — and didn’t face a break point in leveling the match.

Rublev won 93 percent (14 of 15) of his first-serve points in the third set.

Auger-Aliassime had more winners (36-25), more aces (14-7) and more break points saved (8 of 11 to 2 of 4), but dropped to 1-5 in their head-to-head meetings.

“I would say this is the most proud title of my career,” said Rublev, whose first ATP Masters 1000 crown came at Monte Carlo in 2023. “I was almost dead every day. I was not sleeping at night. The last three, four days I didn’t sleep.”

–Field Level Media

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