Filip Krajinovic produced an inspired performance to upset Andrey Rublev at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Tuesday, nullifying the sixth seed’s powerful groundstrokes to surge to a 6-2, 6-4 win at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome.
It was the fifth tour-level meeting between Rublev and Krajinovic, but the first on clay, and it was the Serbian who settled faster on Grand Stand Arena. The World No. 54 opened a 4-0 lead on his way to the opening set and took the second with a solitary break to record a 69-minute victory, sealing the deal in style with a sliced backhand drop shot that left Rublev with no chance.
The win moves Krajinovic 3-2 ahead in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series. Having beaten Frances Tiafoe in the first round on Sunday, the triumph over Rublev means Krajinovic equals his best previous performance in Rome, a third-round run in 2020. Tuesday’s victory over the World No. 7 was just the Serbian’s fourth over a Top 10 opponent in 27 attempts.
Krajinovic’s third-round opponent will be a home favourite, either Fabio Fognini or 10th seed Jannik Sinner.
Fifth seed Casper Ruud avoided an upset of his own when he eked out a 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4 win over Botic van de Zandschulp, avenging a recent straight-sets loss to the dangerous Dutchman in Munich. The Norwegian next will play the winner of David Goffin and Jenson Brooksby.
Ruud this week is looking to turn around a relatively modest clay-court swing, which had returned just four wins from four events heading into Rome. No. 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Ruud improved to 18-8 on the season after winning 61 per cent of points on his opponent’s serve.
© Peter Staples/ATP Tour