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Rublev finally beats fellow Russian Medvedev to reach ATP Tennis Masters 1000 final in Cincinnati

By Ricky Dimon

To defeat Daniil Medvedev, you have to do three things: play great, be ready for a physical battle, and stay in it mentally.

That’s according to Andrey Rublev, at least.

For the first time in his career, Rublev did all three of those things in the same match against Medvedev and it resulted in an upset win during semifinal action at the Western & Southern Open on Saturday afternoon. Previously 0-5 lifetime in the head-to-head series and 0-12 in total sets, Rublev got off the schneid against his fellow Russian with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory that required two hours and 22 minutes.

“To beat Daniil, only to show (a) great game is not enough,” the world No. 7 explained. “You need to be physically ready, because you will have to run a lot and you have to play each point (a) long rally. There will be almost no free points. You have to be also mentally strong. To beat Daniil, you have to do these three things really [well]. It’s nice (that) today I did it well, both game-wise, physical-wise, and mental-wise–which some matches maybe I can be mentally and physically not good.

“But you need to show all three things. I’m happy that I showed them today.”

After one set, it looked like more of the norm would continue between Medvedev and Rublev. The top seed dominated it 6-2 even though there were plenty of entertaining rallies and deuce games.

It was early in the second when the tide turned–both physically and mentally. A bizarre run-in with a camera near the back wall seemed to have a big impact on Medvedev, who dropped serve at 3-4 after eight deuces and five break points. Rublev served it out easily one game later and then seized complete control with a break at 3-3 in the third. The 23-year-old ended the match on a four-game winning streak to clinch the biggest victory of his career in style.

“Even when I was 2-6 down, the score should not have been like this because the points were so tight,” Rublev assessed. “The match was so intense, so many long rallies, super tough, super physical, super mental. A lot like a chess match.

“Medvedev is one of those players who won’t give you a chance to attack, but if I have enough power and choose the right moment I have to be the one to make him run. In the end, I was trying to find the perfect moment to start being more aggressive to open the angles.

“It gives me more confidence that I can compete against him. It’s like you pass university and they give you a diploma.”

Straight As in three different departments allowed Rublev to finally pass the Medvedev test.

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