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Feverish Andrey Rublev outlasts Felix Auger-Aliassime to win Madrid Open

Feverish Rublev outlasts Auger-Aliassime to win Madrid Open
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Andrey Rublev overcomes an illness and a slow start to win his maiden Madrid Open title with victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime in Sunday's men's final.

An illness-ridden Andrey Rublev flaunted his magnificent powers of recovery as he battled back from a set down to beat Felix Auger-Aliassime in the final of the Madrid Open on Sunday.

With two hours and 48 minutes gone in a marathon three-setter, Rublev triumphed 4-6 7-5 7-5 to conquer Madrid for the first time and win just his second ATP 1000 crown, following up last year's Monte-Carlo success.

The Russian seventh seed had been plagued by a bug throughout his clay campaign in the Spanish capital but had earned impressive scalps over Carlos Alcaraz and Taylor Fritz to set up a date with Auger-Aliassime.

Rublev's Canadian foe only completed 50% of his matches - earning a walkover win over Jannik Sinner and also seeing Jakub Mensik and Jiri Lehecka retire from previous matches - and he was evidently the fresher man in the opening exchanges.

Rublev served two double faults on his first two points as Auger-Aliassime broke at the first time of asking before repeating the trick for a 4-1 lead, and even though Rublev earned one break back, he could not find the coveted second.

However, the seventh seed started swinging some venomous cross-court attempts as the match wore on and brought up two set points on the Auger-Aliassime serve in the next set, taking his second chance to take the final the distance.

Rublev triumphs in injury-hit tournament

By this point, Rublev had dusted off the cobwebs and was firmly on top against Auger-Aliassime, and the final appropriately ended how it started, with the Canadian double-faulting on Rublev's first match point before the 26-year-old collapsed onto the clay in euphoria.

The Russian spared a word for the medical staff and catering team during his victory speech, as well as thanking his coach for multiple trips to the pharmacy, as he emerged victorious in a tournament that will not be fondly remembered by the ATP's top dogs.

Already missing Novak Djokovic, the man who replaced the Serbian as top seed - Australian Open champion Sinner - pulled out of his quarter-final with Auger-Aliassime before it was scheduled to begin due to a hip injury, which will also force him to sit out the imminent Italian Open in his homeland.

While Alcaraz did complete his quarter-final with Rublev, his vicious forehand was not 100% operational due to the forearm injury which has seen him relinquish his Rome dreams too, and third seed Daniil Medvedev had to retire from his quarter-final with Lehecka before the Czech suffered the same fate.

Two weeks on from the start of the tournament, all of the top three seeds are on the sidelines in a worrying turn of events before the French Open, but Rublev could now hardly be in a better place.

The Russian now prepares to enter the Italian Open as the fourth seed behind Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and the doubtful Medvedev before turning his attention to Roland-Garros, where he will finally endeavour to end his Grand Slam quarter-final curse, having competed in 10 such matches without ever reaching the final four.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime in action at the Madrid Open on May 3, 2024
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