Rublev and Felix meet in a surprise final in Madrid

They will collide on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. local time

May 04, 2024

Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Andrey Rublev leads his historic Lexus ATP Head2Head with Felix Auger-Aliassime 4-1.
By Staff

In the last 15 years, first-time champions at the Mutua Madrid Open have been rare. Just four, Novak Djokovic (2011), Alexander Zverev (2018), Carlos Alcaraz (2022) and the player who wins this Sunday’s final between Andrey Rublev and Felix Auger Aliassime.

What is surprising is that three of those last four first-time champions in Madrid have been presented since 2018. Perhaps the absence of members of the Big-3 in their best moment or the altitude of Madrid – less and less decisive in today’s players – have left of being great impediments for new players to conquer the Magic Box.

And not just new players. In the case of 2024, tennis players with little chance of lifting the trophy at the start of the competition. The quarterfinals were Rublev and Auger-Aliassime’s best round in Madrid before this fortnight. Both achieved this result in 2022. Furthermore, their moments did not suggest that they could get even in the Spanish capital.

Rublev arrived in Madrid on a four-match losing streak. And Auger-Aliassime had won the same event only three times this season (out of ten possible). In the case of No. 8 in the PIF ATP Rankings, confidence increased with his first two victories in Madrid against ground specialists: Facundo Bagnis and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

And he reached his peak with a 0-1 victory in sets against Carlos Alcaraz, champion of the last two editions. Only against the Murcian has he lost sets in the fortnight, so he is a strong candidate to win his second Masters 1000 crown this Sunday, a level at which he debuted as champion a year ago in Monte Carlo.

“It’s normal to have ups and downs,” Rublev said Friday. “The good thing, when you have too many downs at one time, is that you have to go up. You can’t always lose in the first round… Next week you have a better chance of winning a couple of games. In the end, I guess, this was the week.”

Aliassime’s path has been different because it has been impregnated with a lot of chance. He has won two matches by retirement: in the third round against Mensik and in the semifinals against Lehecka, who had won in the quarterfinals due to the retirement of Daniil Medvedev. In addition, the Canadian benefited from the W/O of the Italian Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinals.

But by beating Casper Ruud in two sets, one of the best players today and a constant threat on clay (he was champion in Barcelona and finalist in Monte Carlo) he has proven that his has not been just luck in Madrid.

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“I still think I showed throughout the tournament, throughout the weeks, that I’m practicing better, playing better and better,” Auger-Aliassime said. “As the season progresses, I hope he gets more good results.”

His fortnight in Madrid has him in his first Masters 1000 final, back in the Top 20 and one more victory away from becoming the fourth player born in this century with at least one title in this type of tournament. The world No. 35 would equal Alcaraz, Sinner and Holger Rune.

If logic prevails, Rublev will win this Sunday: by ranking and because he leads the Lexus ATP HeadToHead 4-1 between them. But this logic does not always prevail in tennis. And he has done it much less this fortnight. The only thing guaranteed is a new champion in Madrid.


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