With another disappointing loss for Novak Djokovic, Andrey Rublev has a great opportunity to win the title for the second tournament running here. He plays Alex Molcan in the semi final in Banja Luka with a Serbian awaiting the winner – either Dusan Lajovic or Miomir Kecmanovic.
After making his breakthrough in the COVID era, Molcan has had a nice rise up the rankings and was as high as No. 38 last year before falling a bit. He has been able to maintain a solid spot well inside the Top 100 though, in large part down to some good performances at the lower level clay tournaments. This would be his fourth semi final or better since the beginning of 2022 although he has been unable to go all the way just yet. He has hard to work hard for his spot here, with all three matches so far going the distance. He came back from *5-4 and 30-0 in his quarter final win over Laslo Djere, taking the last three games of the match to advance.
It will be interesting to see if Rublev can push on now, having finally won a big tournament to add to his many at ATP 250 and ATP 500 level. He hasn’t been near his best this week but it hasn’t really mattered too much through his first two matches. He recovered from a slow start against Damir Dzumhur, eventually beating the home favourite 7-5 6-3. “We have always had tough battles and today was the same,” Rublev said. “I was losing 2-5 and I was able to come back. It was a tough match. A lot of long games and a lot of long rallies but in the end I was able to win and that is the most important thing.”
Molcan is a solid counterpuncher on clay against lesser players but it is a strategy that is likely going to end badly against someone more consistent and measured in his hitting like Rublev. The Russian is in a confident mood and should be able to finish this one off quickly, especially against an opponent who may be tiring after a busy week so far.
Prediction – Andrey Rublev in straight sets