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Tennis • Sunday Funday: Tsitsipas-Rublev Final In Hamburg, First Day Of French Open

By Ricky Dimon

The final of a 500-point tournament on the same day as main-draw action at a Grand Slam?!?!

Only in 2020, folks.

In a bizarre occurrence due to the complete rearranging of the tennis calendar as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Hamburg European Open final will take place on Sunday–the same day that the French Open begins.

It will be Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Andrey Rublev for the Hamburg title. At the exact same time, tennis fans can also watch David Goffin vs. Jannik Sinner in the first round at Roland Garros. Or Victoria Azarenka vs. Danka Kovinic. Or Venus Williams vs. Anna-Karlina Schmiedlova. Or Maria Sakkari vs. Ajla Tomljanovic. And the list goes on and one.

It will be an abundance of riches on Sunday, and one that tennis fans fully deserve after living through four months of nothingness from March through June.

It was a hiatus that came at exactly the wrong time for Rublev, who captured back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide to begin the season and then reached the fourth round of the Australian Open. The good news for the 14th-ranked Russian is that the unexpected time off apparently did nothing to sap his momentum. Rublev reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open for the second time in his career and now finds himself in the Hamburg final for the second time in as many years.

“ [It is] my first ever time that two years in a row I reached a final at the same tournament,” Rublev said after thrashing Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals on Saturday. “For the moment, it is the most special tournament for me…. Casper did such a great run this week. He did such a great run last week in Rome–lost a good match against (Novak) Djokovic (in the semifinals). He is really on a high level now and I wish him good look at Roland Garros.”

Before they can think about RG, Rublev and Tsitsipas have one more match on their hands tomorrow. Tsitsipas set up the showdown by beating Cristian Garin 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 in Saturday’s nightcap.

“It was nerve-wracking,” the second-seeded Greek assured. “During the match [there were] lots of nerves. The match was very close and towards the end I showed great responsibility and took advantage of my strengths….  I am very, very happy that I am able to play such good tennis in such a beautiful German city, get great support, and just be able to show my best, play my best, and be my best.”

Who will be the best on Sunday?

Well, that depends on what tournament you’re talking about. It could be Tsitsipas. Or Rublev. Or it could be Goffin. Or Sinner. Or Vika. Or Venus. Or maybe even Stan Wawrinka or Andy Murray.

Get your popcorn ready for a big, big day.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.