Andrey Rublev launches his Dubai campaign on Monday when he faces Italian qualifier, Lorenzo Musetti in the first round.
Rublev vs Musetti is live from Dubai on Monday, 24 February from 5:00pm local time/ 1:00pm GMT
Rublev is competing in the Dubai main draw for the first time, as he aims to continue his fine start to the 2020 season. The Russian last played in Dubai in 2017, when he was beaten by Vince Millot in the qualifying rounds, but he returns as a member of the world’s top-20, and one of the form players on the tour.
Rublev is 13-2 in 2020, and has already claimed two titles this season. He opened his year with an 11-0 run, winning titles in Doha and Adelaide, before having his streak snapped by Alexander Zverev in the fourth round of the Australian Open. The 22-year-old then made the quarter finals in Rotterdam in his most recent tournament, beating Nikoloz Basilashvili and Alexander Bublik before falling to Filip Krajinovic.
His 2020 form has taken him into the top-20, with the Russian currently ranked at a career-high 14th in the world. Rublev was one of the pioneers of the ATP’s next project, reaching the final of the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in 2017- the same year he won claimed his maiden career title in Umag, reached the quarter finals of the US Open and broke into the top-40.
However, he was held back by injuries in the following season, and was down at 68th by the end of the year. The Russian slid out of the top-100 in early 2019, but he put together a terrific second half, winning a second career title in Moscow, reaching the final in Hamburg, quarter finals in Cincinnati, Winston-Salem, St. Petersburg and Vienna, and the fourth round of the US Open. By the end of the year, he was up to 23rd in the world.
He has carried that momentum into 2020, and will attempt to keep it going in Dubai, where he opens against qualifier, Musetti on Monday.
17-year-old Musetti is competing in his first ever tour-level main draw after coming through the qualifying rounds in Dubai. The Italian defeated Alexei Popyrin and Evgeny Donskoy to secure the milestone, and book a first round date with Rublev.
A former junior No. 1, Musetti did not have an ATP ranking until April last year, but the talented Italian finished the season at 360th in the world. He made a Challenger final in Milan in June, and a quarter final in Ortisei at the end of the year, while he also claimed a couple of ITF titles in Antalya. Musetti won the Australian Open Boys’ title last season, while he was a beaten finalist at the US Open Boys’ event in 2018.
He came very close to qualifying for his first ever Grand Slam main draw at the Australian Open last month, but fell to Tallon Griekspoor in the final qualifying round. He has continued on the Challenger Tour since then, reaching the third round in Cherbourg, but failing to cross the opening rounds in Quimper and Bergamo.
The talented Italian, currently ranked 312th in the world, has taken another big step in his development this week, but he faces a huge test on Monday as he takes on Russia’s Rublev. Musetti will win lots of tour-level matches in his career, but this first one is very likely to end in defeat.