Tool Time: Tsitsipas Disses Rublev
Andrey Rublev delivered an immaculate final set to defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas and secure a spot in his first ATP Finals semifinal.
With a semifinal spot on the line, Rublev served 74 percent and won 16 of 19 service points in the decider defeating Tsitsipas 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in Turin today.
The victory vaults Rublev into tomorrow’s semifinals against US Open finalist Casper Ruud.
The second-seeded Tsitsipas imploded late in the match dropping two of his last three service games and seemingly belting a ball toward his parents in the support box at one point.
Still, Tsitsipas turned the first question of his post-match presser into tool time suggesting Rublev is a player with limited weapons and implying the better player lost.
“It’s a shame. I feel like the better player,” Tsitsipas said. “I felt like I could do more with the ball today. I felt like I could just be much more creative. I don’t even have to say that. I think it’s quite obvious.
“But, yeah, he prevailed with the few tools that he has. He was able to really take advantage of them and win today.”
While it’s not quite on the level of John McEnroe’s bold dismissal of Ivan Lendl’s ability—”I have more talent in my little finger than he has in his entire body,” Mac once said of Lendl—it is a clear shot from a frustrated Tsitsipas.
Asked his reaction to Tsitsipas’ parting shot, Rublev offered a measured response.
The seventh-ranked Rublev said while the Greek is “obviously [the] better player because he’s higher ranked” if you assess their games shot-by-shot—and head-to-head record—their weapons are more equal than Tsitsipas suggests.
“I don’t know if I have few tools or not. If we go shot by shot, I think his backhand is better than mind. His forehand is not better than mine,” Rublev replied. “The speed [first] serve is not better than mine. He’s faster. He play much better than it. If we go for best shot, I don’t think…
“Obviously he’s better player because he’s higher ranked and he achieved better results. It’s obvious. There is no doubt. But I don’t think that I beat him because of few tools. If you take our match, every match, we have tough battles. This year I lost to him twice in three sets, and now I beat him in three sets.”
The former junior world No. 1 pair have known each other since they were teenagers.
While it’s true Tsitsipas has shown more all-court acumen and sharper net skills than the Russian, Rublev is a powerhouse baseline blaster, who can take the ball early and do damage off both wings.
Tsitsipas successfully used the serve-and-volley in his victory over Daniil Medvedev, but said given Rublev stands closer to the baseline and hits it harder than the 2021 US Open champion he didn’t deploy the tactic frequently today.
The third-ranked Greek is out of Turin, but his season may not be done yet. Tsitsipas said he plans to play a Challenger in France next week and has a clear pre-season goal: Improve his return game.
“My goal for the pre-season is going to be perhaps a bit more consistent with my returns because I think if I’m able to improve on that aspect of my game, I can do more damage,” Tsitsipas said.
Photo credit: Giampiero Sposito/Getty