After having his perfect start to the season ended at the Australian Open, Andrey Rublev will attempt to get back to winning ways when he faces Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili in the opening round in Rotterdam on Tuesday.
Rublev vs Bashilashvili is live from Rotterdam on Tuesday, 11 February from 2:30pm local time/ 1:30pm GMT
Rublev made a terrific start to 2020, winning his first eight matches as he claimed consecutive titles in Doha and Adelaide. He carried on that form at the Australian Open, reaching the fourth round before suffering a first defeat of the season to Alexander Zverev.
Rublev’s winning streak actually dated back to the end of last season, when he won all four of his singles matches at the Davis Cup. In total, he won 15 consecutive matches before falling to Zverev in Melbourne.
The Russian has had a few ups and downs in his young career. He made his first real impression on the tour in 2017, when he claimed his first career title in Umag, reached the quarter finals of the US Open, and broke into the top-40, but he struggled with injuries in the following season, and was out of the top 60 by the end of 2018.
Rublev was out of the top-100 in February last year, and his problems showed no signs of relenting when he was sidelined for most of the clay-court season through injury, but he returned with a big bang, compiling a superb second half to crack the top-25.
The 22-year-old was champion in Moscow and a finalist in Hamburg, while he made quarter finals in Cincinnati, Winston-Salem, St. Petersburg and Vienna, and the fourth round of the US Open. He peaked at a career-high ranking of 22nd, and finish the year at No. 23.
He has continued to march forward in 2020, breaking into the top-20, and entering Rotterdam at a career-high ranking of 15th. The Russian starts his bid for a third title of the year against Nikoloz Basilashvili on Tuesday.
Former top-20 player, Basilashvili has been slow off the blocks this year, winning just two of his five matches so far.
He was 1-2 at the ATP Cup, beating Pablo Cuevas and losing to Rafael Nadal and Yoshihito Nishioka, while he lost to Fernando Verdasco in the second round of the Australian Open.
Basilashvili is coming off a career-best season in 2019, when he maintained a top-30 ranking all through, and peaked at No. 16. The 27-year-old put together a 28-24 tour-level record, the peak of his results being a successful title defence in Hamburg- where he incidentally defeated Andrey Rublev in the final.
He underwent surgery on an elbow problem at the end of last season, but recovered in time for the start of the new season, playing in the ATP Cup and the Australian Open in January.
Now ranked 26th in the world, Basilashvili is competing in Rotterdam for the second straight season, and will be looking to better his result from 2019, when he fell to Marton Fucsovics in the second round. First, he’s got to get past Rublev in his tournament opener on Tuesday.
Basilashvili leads the head-to-head 2-1, winning in Doha and Hamburg last season, before losing their most recent encounter in Cincinnati.
Expect plenty of aggressive hitting when they face off in Rotterdam as neither player holds back off the ground. It’s a tactic that can sometimes backfire, with both men prone to unforced errors. Rublev is the man in form- he’s been in the upward trajectory for the last eight months, and should be able to keep that up on Tuesday.