The entire tennis world is eagerly awaiting the return of 20-time Slam champion Roger Federer. The 39-year-old has been away from the tour since January's Australian Open owing to a double knee surgery, and is currently training in Dubai.
Russia's Andrey Rublev is seemingly looking forward to Roger Federer's comeback almost as much as his fans. The 23-year-old recently said he looks at Federer as an inspiration, and that he hopes to play into his 30s just like the Swiss.
Rublev made the comments in an interview with Spanish daily MARCA.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing how he (Roger Federer) does it," Rublev said. "Never in history has there been a case like Roger Federer and I want to see what happens because it can serve as an example for me. I also want to extend my career as long as possible. I don't see myself retiring at 30."
Rublev is currently ranked a career-high No. 8 in the ATP standings, having enjoyed the best season of his career in 2020. The Russian won five ATP titles in the year and qualified for the season-ending ATP Finals for the first time.
Rublev, who was also recently voted the Most Improved ATP Player of the Year, defeated Roger Federer in straight sets at the Cincinnati Masters in 2019. After that match, Federer had marked the 23-year-old as a player to watch in the future.
If Rafael Nadal is capable of winning a Grand Slam 13 times, you have to try to win it at least once: Andrey Rublev
Rublev went on to talk about Rafael Nadal's historic tally of 13 French Open titles, claiming that a record like that makes everyone else also aspire for greatness. The Russian played Nadal at the recent Nitto ATP Finals in London, but was beaten by the Spaniard in straight sets.
"What comes to mind is that if someone is capable of winning a Grand Slam 13 times, you have to try to win it at least once," Rublev said.
"I couldn't handle the pressure (playing Nadal at the ATP Finals)," he added. "When I showed my emotions from the beginning of the game, I knew that I was finished."
Despite being firmly entrenched in the top 10, Rublev still feels he needs to earn his place among the sport's elite. The Russian hopes to maintain his ranking for a couple of years so that he can be considered in the same breath as the other mainstays at the top.
"I feel like I'm a top 10 guest," Rublev said. "To really feel like one of them, I have to find consistency and that means being in that position for a couple of years. It can be said that Thiem, Zverev or Medvedev have deserved to be there."Published 23 Dec 2020, 18:31 IST