Top class Andrey Rublev did double duty on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Citi Open and now turns his attention to winning a record-breaking fourth ATP Tour title of the season this weekend.
The number 8 in the world recorded a win against Maxime Cressy earlier in the day with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over American JJ Wolf and booked a semi-final showdown with Yoshihito Nishioka. The Japanese lefty extended his perfect ATP Head2Head record against Daniel Evans to 5-0 after a grueling 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-5 win in three hours and 35 minutes.
Rublev hadn’t dropped a set all week and allowed just five games against Wolf in a comfortable one hour and 18 minute win.
DC’s top league was equally efficient despite facing very different opponents on Friday. “The two players I encountered are completely different. In the morning there were no rallies and this afternoon, when we started playing, I needed time to adjust, but then I started to play well and I’m glad I finished in straight sets,” the three-time champion said in 2022.
Nishioka reaches his first Tour-level semi-final of the season and first since Delray Beach in 2020. The 26-year-old is doing great in DC, knocking out three seeded players (Atlanta champion Alex De Minaur, Karen Khachanov and Evans) and Atlanta finalist Jenson Brooksby in the first round.
I never gave up and that’s the way I think I won today. I just focused on making lots of balls and playing long rallies. I knew he didn’t want to because he was getting tired, said the Japanese star.
Earlier in the day, Rublev completed part one of a two-step mission by beating American Maxime Cressy 6-4, 7-6(8) in a game postponed from Thursday due to rain.
Rublev’s combined match time today was exactly three hours, 35 minutes less than Nishioka on the field against Evans.
In the third game of both sets tonight, Rublev managed to break the serve of 23-year-old Wolf. He saved all four breakpoints he encountered.
“I didn’t spend much time on the track… and I think that was the main key today,” said Rublev.
Rublev advances to his seventh semi-final of the season and if he claims his fourth title of the year, he rises to fourth in the Pepperstone ATP Race to Turin.
In hot and humid conditions earlier in the day, Rublev got off to a hot start against serve-and-volleyer Cressy, forcing the 24-year-old to consistently make high-quality passes. “To be honest it’s super hard to deal with this kind of style because you have to be 100% focused; you never know what to expect,” said the 2018 DC semifinalist.
Rublev was dominant in the first set, broke in the third game and won all 14 of his first service points.
The turning point in the second set came with Cressy serving at 5/3 in the tie-break. The 6’6” former UCLA star ran to the net after a blistering serve and had a routine smash on top of the net to get three set points. Cressy fired the smash straight at Rublev, who, despite being just inside the baseline, bounced back an easy overhead that sent Cressy wide.
Rublev later admitted that he thought the second set was over when Cressy had the mini-break. “In my mind the second set was done and I will just do my best to finish the second and I will fight for the third,” Rublev recalled.
Having already won three titles this season (Marseille, Dubai, Belgrade), a title this week would put Rublev on par with Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz for the most titles of the year.
Wolf, who was awarded a wildcard to Washington, DC, is in his first Tour level quarterfinal after beating Holger Rune 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. The former Ohio state star, who has won the last four games, now climbs to a career-high 83 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.
Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios needed just 14 minutes to complete his Round of 16 match against Reilly Opelka today. Opelka resumed the match at 1-2, 0/30. Kyrgios immediately put his authority on the game by breaking into that game and never gave up on momentum as he rode to a 7-6(1), 6-2 win.
The 2019 Citi Open champion won’t get much rest today as he faces DC resident Frances Tiafoe tonight for his quarterfinal doubles with partner, Jack Sock.
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