PARIS (Reuters) - The relief was clear for Russian 13th seed Andrey Rublev as he came back from the brink to beat American Sam Querrey in five sets at the French Open on Tuesday.
Trailing by two sets and 5-2 to the big-serving Querrey it seemed as though Rublev was about to suffer a similar first-round fate to his fourth-seeded compatriot Daniil Medvedev.
The 22-year-old had never recovered a two-set deficit before but showed incredible fight to gradually turn the match around and win 6-7(5) 6-7(4) 7-5 6-4 6-3 in three hours and 17 minutes.
What made his victory all the more remarkable was that when the tournament began on Sunday, Rublev was 900-km away in Hamburg beating Stefanos Tsitsipas to claim his third ATP title of the season which has seen him rocket up the rankings.
He arrived in Paris late on Sunday evening and thankfully was allowed to use the negative COVID-19 test he produced before the Hamburg final to avoid needing a 24-hour quarantine.
When he dinked an angled winner to finally get past Querrey he went down on his knees and bellowed into the Parisian murk.
It had not looked possible an hour or so earlier when Querrey was dominating but Rublev, whose father was a professional boxer, got off the ropes to triumph.
“When I lost the second set, then I was thinking it’s going to be really tough. When he broke me (in the third), I was completely sure it’s over,” he said.
“Anyway, I’m happy that I’m alive and I have another opportunity to change this, one more chance to show different attitude, different game.”
Rublev’s first French Open match win sets him up for a second-round clash with Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris
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