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Rublev rolls early to rip Korda

  • Ravi Ubha

Daniil Medvedev went deep into the Melbourne night in his second-round win over Emil Ruusuvuori at Australian Open 2024 – and good friend Andrey Rublev might have been taking up a little more of his time to help with scouting.

MORE: All the scores from Day 6 at AO 2024

After facing Thiago Seyboth Wild in the opening round and Christopher Eubanks in the second in what were first-time meetings, Rublev took on Sebastian Korda at Melbourne Park on Friday night. 

Rublev was in a ruthless mood against Korda on Friday night

Seyboth Wild stunned Medvedev at the French Open last year, Eubanks took him to five sets at Wimbledon and Korda downed the twice Australian Open finalist at AO 2023.

MORE: AO 2024 men's singles draw

If Medvedev has indeed helped Rublev – the godfather to Medvedev’s daughter – the advice seems to be working.

Rublev continued his charge to a benchmark 10th Grand Slam quarterfinal by ousting Korda 6-2 7-6(6) 6-4 at Margaret Court Arena on Friday night.

The match ended before midnight, countering Medvedev’s finish of around 3:40am – on the same morning – against the Finn.

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For a spot in the last eight, Rublev must beat the surging Alex de Minaur, the last remaining Australian in men’s singles.

Yes, Medvedev played De Minaur at a Grand Slam in 2023, too, so Rublev could pick up the phone and seek guidance from his pal. Then again, De Minaur and Rublev have played five times, with De Minaur holding a 3-2 advantage.   

“He is a super great player and such a nice guy, and hopefully we will have a great match and the spectators will enjoy, that’s the most important thing,” said Rublev, who is much liked by peers and fans.

Thunderous serving and big baseline hitting in general have helped the 26-year-old become a fixture in the top 10. Against Korda, he bagged 83 per cent of points behind his first serve and faced only one break point.  

But it was finesse, counterpunching – and a roar – that assisted Rublev in the second-set tiebreak, the outcome of which realistically decided proceedings.  

Korda and his all-around game led 4-2, and the American, who donned a bandage on one of his playing fingers, was in the charge of the next point, moving Rublev from side to side. It made perfect sense to try to finish at the net but on the slide, Rublev’s defensive lob eluded Korda and stole him the point.

Then at 5-5, Korda forced Rublev to scramble and knifed an angled backhand volley, only to see Rublev anticipate and author a backhand passing shot.

If that wasn’t enough – after Korda saved a set point – Rublev’s outstanding pick-up off a return kept the point going and ended with an error by last year’s quarterfinalist to make it 7-6. On Rublev’s second set point, Korda hooked his short forehand wide. 

“My mind was getting a bit emotional,” said Rublev. “I screamed because I started to feel a little tight and I need to scream to let my emotions out.”

He wanted to experience the feeling of just going for his shots, he added.

“Then I was lucky, I made an amazing lob," he said.

An early break in the third set kept Rublev’s momentum going, and behind that serve, he didn’t flinch.