While the other top men’s matches on Day 8 of the tournament represent more of an old guard vs new star feel, the Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev will showcase two of the games top young stars. The fourth round is a career best for both players in Melbourne, with one looking to go even further with a win.
Now 22, Rublev looks to be finally making the most of his potential if the last 12 months are anything to go by. Injuries and loss of form had hindered him prior but he now looks ready to challenge with three titles since October. That includes two this year as he rides high on an 11 match winning streak thanks to his triumphs in Doha and Adelaide. The best of his wins came in the previous round here, coming from a set and break down to beat David Goffin. “Everything is great with the confidence, but sometimes it’s not about confidence. Today I wasn’t serving as well as I did in the second round and it became more about the mental side. How you accept this, how you still be positive instead of being negative. Mental is the main important thing in tennis.” he said on the match and the mindset needed to comeback.
Zverev looks far more confident after securing a third consecutive straight sets win to move into the fourth round. He hit 15 aces against Fernando Verdasco in a comfortable 6-2 6-2 6-4 win, boosting the German’s confidence further as he goes into this matchup. “It’s so far been a good week for me. As I said, it’s going to be a process in every match. It has been getting better. Today was the best match I think I’ve played so far. I’m happy to be through in straight sets against someone we know can play well on these courts, can beat anybody,” Zverev said.
It will be in the back of Rublev’s mind that he has never beaten Zverev in three attempts at tour level. However, the Russian is on a different level from at least two of those losses and is not going to hold back against an opponent who has been previously vulnerable at grand slam level. Zverev is not going to get complacent and does recognise his the danger his opponent poses. “He’s one of the most hard-hitting players on Tour. Out of every position, he can hit a winner. He improved a lot. I think he improved his serve a lot. He improved his movement a lot, as well.” he said.
Prediction – Andrey Rublev in five sets