Andrey Rublev ended Sebastian Korda's run at the 2021 Miami Masters on Friday, edging past the young American 7-5, 7-6. Rublev is now into his first ever Masters 1000 semifinal, where he will face Hubert Hurkacz.
The Russian was asked during his post-match press conference about the big opportunity that lay before him: he is the only top 10 player left in the men's draw, and the near-unanimous favorite to lift the trophy. But Rublev was typically pessimistic in his response, taking pains to talk up the chances of his opponents and play down his own.
"I would say opposite," Andrey Rublev replied when he was asked whether this was a big opportunity to clinch his maiden Masters title. "I'm not thinking that much because I respect all the players and I know how tough Hurkacz is. He beat me last year, half a year ago."
Andrey Rublev believes there is extra pressure on him ahead of his next two matches, since the expectations are higher from him as a top 10 player. The World No. 8 insisted that Hubert Hurkacz, Roberto Bautista Agut and Jannik Sinner have all been in great form this week, while pointing out that Hurkacz and Bautista Agut have beaten him in the last 52 weeks.
"It's more about that I feel extra pressure because as you said, I'm the only one left in top 10 and it looks like I'm higher ranking, I feel more pressure," Rublev said. "But on the real, I lost to Hurkacz, I lost to Roberto 6-3 6-3 two weeks ago. Jannik who is beating already many players, and I think he won against top 10 players also. He has an amazing level."
"So in the end, everyone can win now, it's not about all of them playing so good tennis, it's not about ranking so," the Russian added. "And I lost to two of them not a long time ago, so we'll see what is going to happen, I'm going to do my best and that's it."
Andrey Rublev recalls the guidance he received as a 16-year-old from former Australian Open champion Petr Korda
During the interview, Andrey Rublev was also asked about his relationship with Sebastian Korda's father. Petr Korda was an accomplished player in his day, winning the 1998 Australian Open and reaching a career-high ranking of No. 2 in the world.
Rublev revealed that he gained a lot of insight under the tutelage of Korda Sr. a few years ago, when he was training at Bradenton IMG as a 16-year-old.
"Yeah, I know his father cause he was helping me a bit at 16 years of age or something like that," Rublev said. "When I was at Bradenton IMG, he was coaching me. He was giving advices, hitting with me and I'm really grateful to him for this."
Andrey Rublev went on to highlight the former Slam champion's knowledge of the game, before asserting that he was not at all surprised by Sebastian Korda's recent improvement. After all, it was under his father's guidance that Korda Jr. forged the base of his big groundstrokes and gliding movement.
"I mean, I'm not surprised, his father knows a lot about tennis and he has taught him very well," Andrey Rublev said. "You can see he really have a great technique, he has really easy shots, easy movement, and I have seen his matches."
"I also practiced with him at the US Open," the Russian added. "So his matches are how he was playing this week, so I'm not really surprised. He's really talented and I wish him all the best."