DUBAI (Reuters) – Andrey Rublev was afraid he would suffer an early exit at the Dubai Championships after arriving late at the tournament but the Russian said keeping his emotions in control helped him seal an unexpected victory over Britain’s Daniel Evans on Tuesday.
Rublev converted his seventh match point to defeat Evans 6-4 7-5 in the first round in Dubai, two days after he won the singles and doubles titles in Marseille.
The 24-year-old said he arrived in Dubai at 2 a.m. on the day of his match against Evans, leaving him with very little confidence.
“I was thinking I have no chance,” Rublev told reporters. “I’m super happy (with the win) because I didn’t expect this.”
The world number seven said he had a longer-than-usual warmup and vowed to stay focussed throughout the match to give himself a shot at a strong start at the ATP 500 hard-court event.
“The only chance to win today was to behave really well… emotional discipline, to not show negative things, to not complain, to not say bad things,” Rublev added.
“If let’s say I get broken, (on the) inside I want to destroy everything. I know if I’m going to start to do this, I will play even worse because I’m not feeling the ball well and I cannot let it happen.
“I need to stay focused for feeling the ball… I was missing match points. Suddenly I make a passing (shot) out of nowhere. I think if I would start to complain after all these match points, I will not make this passing shot.”
Rublev, who is the second seed in Dubai, will next face South Korean Kwon Soon-woo.
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)