They grew up together and they have known each other since the age of eleven. Alexander Zverev refers to Andrey Rublev as one of his best friends on tour and even when they chat with each other they do it in Russian as Zverev is of Russian background.
In their junior days it was Rublev who would score the spoils, Zverev even said that he would get his behind well and truly whipped by the Russian but since both moved into the senior levels of the sport the tables have been turned and it is Zverev who has been doing all the winning.
Sascha had never done well at the Cincinnati Open and when he arrived again this year his hope was to initially get through a round. He did way more than that – he went all the way to the title, defeating Rublev 6-2, 6-3 in 59 minutes. This was an awesome performance and Rublev was left shaking his head in frustration on occasion.
Zverev did not lose a point on serve in the first set till he served for the set.
“No, I didn't know that, but I did feel comfortable on the court from the beginning,” Zverev said. “Obviously breaking him in the beginning, that did help for me, because the match kind of went my way after that. And, yeah, I mean, look, he's an incredible player. Once he gets into a rhythm, once he gets into a match, he's extremely difficult to beat because he has the shots to beat anyone.
“So, I knew that I had to -- once I was up and ahead, I needed to kind of keep pressing and keep going forward, and I did that well today, I feel like.
“Obviously I felt well from the beginning. Broke him the first game, and I think then the match went my way, I have to say, quite a lot and quite fast. Obviously very happy with that, because Andrey, once he gets the rhythm, once he gets going in a match, he's a very dangerous player and can beat anybody. He showed that the day before against Daniil Medvedev. Obviously very happy with how things went.”
Zverev is the first man to win multiple ATOP Masters 1000’s this year. This is his fifth career masters 1000, he is the first German man to win the title since Boris Becker in 1985 and he is the first man since Andre Agassi in 1996 to win the Olympic gold medal and the Cincy title in the same year.
Rublev was naturally disappointed, but it had been a super week for him. He beat players he had never beaten before like his friend and countryman, Daniil Medvedev. He had also reached his second Masters 1000 final. However, he said he is still learning how to deal with on-court situations.
I'm on a learning process to learn how to do, what to do, what to say to myself,” Rublev said. “Because normally in these moments, you start to panic, you start to stress, you start to rush. I can see that I'm doing this better. I was comparing some other matches in the past when was happening the same way, I was double panic, double more panic, double more stress than even today. So, I'm learning process to find out what exactly you need to do, what exactly need to say to yourself, how to find this balance inside of yourself.”
The doubles title went to Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, they beat Steve Johnson and Austin Krajicek 7-6, 7-6.