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21 Jan, 2023 06:49

Russian number one marches on at Australian Open

Andrey Rublev is into the fourth round after victory over Britain’s Dan Evans
Russian number one marches on at Australian Open

Russia’s Andrey Rublev swept into the second week of the Australian Open with a big-hitting performance to defeat Britain’s Dan Evans in their third-round meeting on Saturday.

Fifth seed Rublev outclassed Evans in straight sets, winning 6-4 6-2 6-3 at Margaret Court Arena. Highlighting Rublev’s dominance, he racked up 60 winners during the contest compared to 20 from the British number 25 seed. The Russian broke his rival’s serve four times, staving off four break points on his own serve.

Rublev, who overtook Daniil Medvedev as Russia’s highest ranked player ahead of the tournament in Melbourne, will next play Danish ninth seed Holger Rune in the fourth round. Rune overcame an injury scare to defeat France’s Ugo Humbert in their third-round match on Saturday.

Rublev, 25, is bidding to reach a seventh quarterfinal at a Grand Slam, and what would be his second in three years in Melbourne. However, he has yet to reach the semifinals of a major and will be aiming to finally break that hoodoo this year.

Crucially, Rublev is finding form after a disappointing start to 2023 which saw him exit two warm-up tournaments in Adelaide in the opening round.

“At the beginning of the season I lost a bit of confidence with those losses, but now I am playing good tennis,” Rublev said after seeing off Evans. “After the first set I was feeling really confident and I knew I could play better, faster and that he was not comfortable with that, so I tried to play even more aggressive.”

Elsewhere in the men’s draw in Melbourne, Russia has representation in the form of Karen Khachanov, who takes on Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the fourth round on Sunday. Two-time Australian Open finalist Medvedev saw his hopes ended at the tournament this year when he suffered a shock third-round exit to America’s Sebastian Korda in straight sets on Friday.