Date: 15 February 2021
Tournament: Australian Open 2021
Round: Fourth round (Round of 16)
Venue: Melbourne, Australia
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: AUD $80,000,000
Match timing: Approx. 3 pm local time, 9.30 am IST
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | UK - Eurosport 1 | India - Sony Six
Andrey Rublev vs Casper Ruud preview
It's been 15 years since a Russian male won a Grand Slam singles title (Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open). The chances of that streak ending this fortnight in Melbourne seem pretty good.
Two Russian men in sizzling form over the past few months are through to the fourth round at the 2021 Australian Open. But if they both win on Monday, they will square off against each other in the quarterfinals.
While one Russian, Daniil Medvedev, is on a 17-match winning streak, 23-year-old compatriot Andrey Rublev is snapping at his heels. Rublev won five ATP titles in 2020 and qualified for his first ever season-ending ATP Finals.
The World No. 8 went unbeaten at the ATP Cup last week too. Rublev partnered with Medvedev to lift the ATP Cup for Russia, and he is looking primed for a big breakthrough at a Slam.
Standing between Rublev and a maiden Australian Open quarterfinal is 22-year-old Casper Ruud. Ruud, ranked No. 28, is through to the fourth round at a Major for the first time.
The Norwegian is only the second player from his country to get this far at a Slam - the first was his father Christian, who achieved the same at the 1997 Australian Open.
While Ruud's trajectory has not been as rapid as Rublev's, but he has been steadily improving over the last couple of years.
Andrey Rublev vs Casper Ruud head-to-head
Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud have met on two occasions previously, with Rublev leading their head-to-head 2-0.
Both their meetings have come in Hamburg on clay. Rublev won their 2019 Round-of-16 encounter in three sets, and their 2020 semifinal in straight sets.
Andrey Rublev vs Casper Ruud prediction
Andrey Rublev has carried his impressive form over to the Australian Open this week. The Russian is yet to drop a set, having registered solid wins over Yannick Hanfmann, Thiago Monteiro and Feliciano Lopez.
Casper Ruud has had a slightly rougher path to getting here, but has looked impressive nonetheless. After a first-round straight-sets win over Jordan Thompson, he required four sets each to overcome Tommy Paul and Radu Albot.
At this stage in a Slam there are no easy matches, and both players are clearly aware of that.
"It's going to be tough," Rublev said ahead of his match against Ruud. "It's going to be a physical match because he has really great physical power. He can run a lot. He's [hitting his] forehand really hard."
"It’s been tough, but I’ve enjoyed the tough work to get here and it’s a nice way to get a little bit of payback when you reach the late stages in a Grand Slam," Ruud stated.
Rublev plays a slightly more offensive game than Ruud. The Norwegian's preferred shot is his forehand, and Rublev will need to keep the ball as far away from that flank as possible.
With three Grand Slam quarter-final appearances under his belt, Andrey Rublev's confidence and experience make him the favorite in this fourth-round encounter.
Prediction: Andrey Rublev to win in four sets.