Tennis: Federer shows off new line of Uniqlo caps
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World No 8 Andrey Rublev insisted that he was full of admiration for Rafael Nadal after defeating the experienced Spaniard at the Monte-Carlo Masters on Friday. Nadal was widely expected to seal victory against his Russian counterpart, but failed to live up to his well-earned reputation as the king of clay, crashing out of the competition at the quarter-final stage.
Rublev produced a stunning performance to see off the challenge of Nadal and throw a huge spanner in the works ahead of next month’s French Open, with the latter hoping to defend his title at Roland-Garros once again.
The Russian contender came flying out of the blocks to take the first set, before his opponent drew level in the second to keep himself in the contest and set up a decider.
However, Rublev stormed home to secure a famous win and book his place in the last four of this year’s competition.
He will take on Norwegian hopeful Casper Ruud in Saturday’s semi-final for the chance to face either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Dan Evans for a shot at silverware.
Rublev showed no hesitation in honouring Nadal after Friday’s match, revealing that he does not envy the pressure the 34-year-old faces as the dominant force on clay.
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“I can’t imagine how to be in the situation of Rafa,” said Rublev during his on-court interview. “Knowing you’re the best player on clay and you have that pressure every time.
“I think for him it must be incredibly tough every time. I’m in shock the way he’s playing under this pressure, and that’s why he’s a legend.”
Thursday’s surprise result is the second major upset in as many days at the Monte-Carlo Masters, with Novak Djokovic crashing out at the hands of British No 1 Evans on Thursday.
The Serb’s exit made Nadal the overwhelming favourite to win the tournament, but he was a long way off his brilliant best for the duration of the match against Rublev.
He made no less than 13 unforced errors during the opening set, including five double faults, which allowed Rublev to draw first blood inside 38 minutes.
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