06:08 PM GMT November 10, 2018
On Saturday morning, Andrey Rublev went to sleep at around 3 a.m. after suffering a devastating fifth-set defeat at the hands of Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last four of the Next Gen ATP Finals. But the Russian bounced back later in the day, beating Spaniard Jaume Munar 1-4, 4-3(4), 2-4, 4-2, 4-3(3) to earn third place at the Fiera Milano.
“It was a tough two matches,” Rublev said. “In both I was strong mentally. Yesterday I was a little unlucky. Today is the opposite, I was a bit lucky.”
Rublev was the only player in the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals field who also competed at the prestigious 21-and-under event last year in its inaugural edition. But in 2017, Rublev was the top seed, reaching the final. This time around, the 21-year-old was still working his way back from a lower back injury that kept him out of competition for three months.
Nevertheless, Rublev still put forth a strong effort in Milan. The World No. 68 won two of his three group matches, and pushed World No. 15 Tsitsipas to the brink in a thrilling semi-final. And then the fifth seed maintained his level to beat Munar after one hour and 48 minutes.
“It’s nice to finish the season that strong mentally, I would say,” Rublev said. “I hope this is a new beginning for the next season.”
Rublev, who won 82 per cent of his first-service points in the match, finishes the season with 20 tour-level match wins for the second consecutive year. Thanks to his efforts, the 2017 Umag champion leaves Milan with $194,000.