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Rublev, Rune set up Australian Open showdown with easy wins

Bracket busting has been the story of Week 1 at the Australian Open, with unexpected results and surprise stars emerging in the business end of the tournament.

Although there are fourth-round matchups that could not have been believed when the fortnight began (J.J. Wolf vs. Ben Shelton, for example), there are some blockbuster battles on the schedule that just about everyone was anticipating when the draw was revealed. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jannik Sinner will square off on Sunday night, while Andrey Rublev vs. Holger Rune is Monday’s marquee match.

Rublev and Rune had no trouble setting up their head-to-head encounter. The sixth-ranked Russian sank Dan Evans 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 before the 19-year-old Dane disposed of Ugo Humbert 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(5).

The only problem either man had came when Rune rolled over on his ankle and also hurt his wrist during a fall in the first game of the second set. A visit from the trainer was brief and the world No. 10 did not show any ill effects throughout a mostly dominant performance the rest of the way.

“I’m feeling better than I expected,” Rune said following his win. “I was a bit worried. My ankle is good but my wrist was hurting a bit, but the doctor checked me and he said it was fine, it’s nothing to worry about,” Rune said. “Of course it was painful, but I tried to focus on something else. I’m playing on such an amazing stage in the third round of a Grand Slam, so I didn’t think about it. I just kept going.”

The competition level now gets much tougher in the form of Rublev, who wiped Evans off the court in just two hours and nine minutes.

“At the beginning of the season I lost a bit of confidence with losses (in Adelaide), but now I am playing good tennis,” the No. 5 seed assured. “After the first set I was feeling really confident and I knew I could play better, faster and that he was not comfortable with that, so I tried to play even more aggressive.”

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