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Ricky’s pick for the Madrid final: Rublev vs. Auger-Aliassime

Andrey Rublev and Felix Auger-Aliassime will be squaring off for the sixth time in their careers when they battle for the Mutua Madrid Open title on Sunday afternoon. Rublev leads the head-to-head series 4-1. He is 1-0 against Auger-Aliassime in 2024 (3-6, 7-6(6), 7-5 on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam) and 1-0 on clay (6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3) six years ago in Umag).

To say that this a surprising final matchup would be a gross understatement. Rublev had been on a four-match losing streak heading into Madrid, securing just a single win in his last six matches. Auger-Aliassime had been saddled with a modest 11-10 record for his 2024 campaign and had won multiple matches in only one of his previous seven tournaments.

Surprising for both guys this fortnight has resulted in Rublev’s fifth Masters 1000 final and Auger-Aliassime’s first. Rublev triumphed at the 2023 Monte-Carlo Masters and was a point away from doing the same last fall in Shanghai.

It’s safe to say that Auger-Aliassime has gotten a lot of help en route to his first title match at this level. In fact, the 23-year-old Canadian has completed only three matches in Madrid. In addition to wins over Yoshihito Nishioka, Adrian Mannarino, and Casper Ruud, he got a walkover from Jannik Sinner and retirements from Jakub Mensik and Jiri Lehecka.

Rublev has been tested against healthy opponents from start to finish, but he was largely untroubled on the way to Sunday’s final. The world No. 8 dropped a set to Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals to go along with straight-set victories at the expense of Facundo Bagnis, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Tallon Griekspoor, and Taylor Fritz.

Rublev has been the best player all tournament long and has experience in Masters finals, so he should have the advantage in this one.

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