Andrey Rublev needed just 68 minutes to claim his first win of the European clay swing on Wednesday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
The sixth seed ripped 11 forehand winners in his 6-3, 6-2 win against Italian qualifier Salvatore Caruso on Court Rainier III. Rublev is through to the third round in the Principality for the first time.
“I am happy with my game for the first match of the clay season,” said Rublev in his post-match interview. “I was a little bit tight because obviously I didn’t practise a lot on clay and I didn’t play matches before.
“Caruso was playing [from] qualifying, so he [had got] used to the clay already and on clay he is really dangerous. I am really happy that I could win in straight sets.”
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Rublev’s win against Caruso extends his tour-leading wins total this year to 21 matches (21-4). Last year’s Roland Garros quarter-finalist is aiming to capture his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title this week.
MOST MATCH WINS IN 2021 ATP TOUR SEASON
The World No. 8 established control of the match from the first ball. Rublev used his forehand throughout the match to dictate play from the baseline and push Caruso into defensive positions. The eight-time ATP Tour titlist closed the match with a cross-court forehand winner.
Rublev will meet ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut or Tommy Paul for a place in the quarter-finals. The 23-year-old owns a 2-3 ATP Head2Head record against Bautista Agut, but he won the pair’s only previous encounter on clay in last year’s Hamburg European Open quarter-finals. Rublev is unbeaten in two matches against Paul.
Did You Know?
Two years ago, ranked No. 90 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Rublev held a 6-4, 4-1 lead against eventual champion Fabio Fognini before falling in three sets.