05:40 AM GMT January 03, 2018
The wins – some of the biggest of Andrey Rublev's career – arrived in a flurry. At the US Open, the Russian beat then-No. 9 Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin, who'd finish at No. 7 in the year-end ATP Rankings, en route to becoming the youngest US Open quarter-finalist since Andy Roddick in 2001.
A month later, at the China Open in Beijing, Rublev fought back from a set down to beat both year-end No. 8 Jack Sock and Top 10 stalwart Tomas Berdych.
Four big wins you could easily call “career-building” for the #NextGenATP Russian. But the 20-year-old doesn't view them in such a linear, stepping-stone way.
To Rublev, the matches were simply good wins on good days, no career-defining moments. The Moscow native wants to have days like those every week, not just for stretches during the season.
“To be more consistent is the goal. The taste of victories over Dimitrov, Berdych, Goffin and Sock was fleeting, but worthy in 2017, but more because I realise they are in the Top 10 or Top 20 for a reason, their year-round consistency,” Rublev exclusively told ATPWorldTour.com in Doha, where he is playing in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.
“That’s what I want to produce each week. I didn’t think of those victories as a stepping stone, on a career ladder, more as individual matches in a tournament week.”
Last season was by far Rublev's best on the ATP World Tour. The Russian shaved off more than 100 spots from his year-end ATP Ranking, starting 2017 at No. 156 and finishing at No. 39. He also solidified himself as one of the best 21-and-under players on the planet by qualifying for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.
Rublev was the top seed in Italy, and he lost to only one player all week: champion Hyeon Chung of South Korea.
“I arrived in Milan feeling calm and I think that ensured I performed better to reach the final,” Rublev said. “Of course playing in Milan is a goal [for 2018].”
The Russian spent his off-season in Barcelona, working with coaches Fernando Vicente and Galo Blanco. They will guide him again in 2018, a season Rublev hopes finishes at least one match better than the last.
“This time of my life, my career is the most important as I lay the foundations for a strong future. In working with Fernando and Galo in Barcelona during the off-season, we worked on problems and weaknesses. But nothing specific, as far as stroke play is concerned,” Rublev said.
“The goal of pushing up the ATP Rankings is always there, realising a spot in London [at the Nitto ATP Finals] in future years, is shared by Fernando and Galo, who I trust 100 per cent in training and tournament preparation work. There isn’t any pressure at this stage, it’s balancing my own and my team’s expectations. I’m not fearful of failing to attain a set goal. I’m excited.”