World No. 8 Andrey Rublev said the playing conditions were tough on Thursday in Belgrade but he was glad he was able to end on the winning side.
Rublev, seeded at No. 2, was a set away from suffering a shock exit in his Belgrade opener.
Qualifier Jiri Lehecka made a positive start to his round-of-16 meeting with Rublev but the Russian recovered to win 4-6 7-6 (1) 6-2 and progress into the Belgrade quartefinal.
“It’s a bit tough conditions here to play and it was my first match, plus the guy who I played, he played amazing. He’s a young guy and he played through qualies, through the first round, so he got used to the conditions and he started really well,” Rublev said during his on-court interview, per the ATP website. “I was a bit tight and the first match is not easy. But then, with time I started to adapt and I started to play better and better and in the end I finished the match on a good level.”
Rublev: No easy wins on the tour
Lehecka claimed the first break of the match in the seventh game, before serving out for the first set in the 10th game.
As no breaks were seen in the second set – the set went into a tie-break – which Rublev dominated to force a decider.
After winning a tight second set, Rublev broke Lehecka twice in the third set to complete a three-set win.
Rublev plays next Japanese tennis player Taro Daniel, who defeated Dane Holger Rune in three sets.
“It’s not easy because everyone is playing at a good level and you can see today I was really close to losing my first match. It’s not easy now because the guys, they improve. They play better and better,” Rublev said. “I hope I’m going to do my best tomorrow, I hope I will show a great matchn and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
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