Russia’s Andrey Rublev continued his quest for his first ATP Masters 1000 title on Friday at the Western & Southern Open. The fourth seed battled past Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to reach in Cincinnati to reach his third Masters 1000 semi-final of the season.
Rublev has fond memories in Ohio, having defeated Roger Federer en route to the quarter-finals in Ohio in 2019. He won 84 per cent (37/44) of his first-service points against Paire and raised his level in the third set to advance in one hour and 40 minutes. Rublev will next face top-seeded countryman Daniil Medvedev or Pablo Carreno Busta in the last four.
“I think he began to enjoy the atmosphere, to play better to serve better and everything was going in,” Rublev said of Paire’s second-set turnaround. “It was not easy to find the point to take [back] the advantage of the match. In the third set I focussed on trying to be more calm, to not make stupid mistakes.”
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The World No. 7 advanced to his maiden Masters 1000 final earlier this year at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (l. to Tsitsipas) and reached the last four at the Miami Open presented by Itau (both April). Rublev also captured his eighth tour-level crown in Rotterdam in March and helped guide Russia to the ATP Cup title in February.
In his first ATP Head2Head meeting against Paire, Rublev made a fast start in the first set, stepping inside the baseline and striking the ball with great power on his forehand to dictate. After breaking in the opening game, the Russian was strong on serve and did not face a break point as he raced ahead in 19 minutes.
After receiving treatment for a shoulder injury, Paire started to cause Rublev more problems in the second set. The three-time tour-level titlist demonstrated a mixture of power and precision on his backhand return and covered the court well, showcasing his defensive skills to level the match.
As they moved into a decider, Paire fended off four break points in a mammoth sixth game to remain with Rublev. However, the fourth seed continued to hammer the ball from the baseline and broke with a smash to lead 5-3, before serving out to seal his victory.
Paire was competing in just his second Masters 1000 quarter-final, having advanced to the last four in Rome in 2013. The World No. 50, who upset Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round, has reached quarter-finals in Gstaad, Hamburg and Cordoba this season.