Seventh seed captures second Masters 1000 title

Andrey Rublev is an ATP Masters 1000 champion once again.

The 26-year-old captured his second title at this level on Sunday at the Mutua Madrid Open, where he earned a comeback 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory against first-time Masters 1000 finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Rublev, who triumphed in Monte-Carlo in 2023, arrived in the Spanish capital off the back of a four-match losing streak. However, the seventh seed played close to his consistent best to reach the final and then dug deep in the title match to earn the biggest win of his season after two hours and 47 minutes.

"I have no words. If you knew what I had been through in the past nine days you would not imagine that I would be able to win a title," Rublev said. "I'm incredibly happy. That one week changed everything because now it looks like I was not losing the last weeks in the first round!"

After losing his serve in the first game of the match, Rublev improved throughout to impose his big-hitting game on the Canadian. He earned the decisive break of the second set in the 12th game, before he played with intensity and bravery in the decider to win his 16th tour-level title and second in 2024, having lifted the trophy in Hong Kong.

"I would say this is the most proud title of my career," Rublev said. "I was almost dead every day. I was not sleeping at night. The last three, four days I didn't sleep."

Rublev, who struck 25 winners against Auger-Aliassime, defeated second seed Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-finals before he battled past Taylor Fritz to reach the final. In contrast, Auger-Aliassime benefited from a unique draw in Madrid, where he received a quarter-final walkover from Jannik Sinner and a first-set retirement from Jiri Lehecka in the semi-finals.

While Auger-Aliassime entered the final fresher, Rublev showed grit and determination in the closing stages to improve to 8-1 in deciding sets this year. The seventh seed is up to fifth in the PIF ATP Live Race To Turin, aiming to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the fifth consecutive year.

Auger-Aliassime was chasing his sixth tour-level crown. The 23-year-old will rise to No. 20 in the PIF ATP Rankings on Monday, returning to the Top 20 for the first time since last October.

Competing in their sixth Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting, Auger-Aliassime looked the fresher from the off against Rublev. The Canadian broke Rublev’s set to love in the first game and timed the ball cleanly, hitting 13 winners in the opener to move ahead.

Rublev started to have more joy behind first serve in the second set, winning 80 per cent of points behind his first delivery compared to 62 per cent in the opener. The 26-year-old held with relative ease throughout the set, not facing a break point, before he pounced in the 12th game and levelled the match when Auger-Aliassime pushed a forehand long.

In a tight third set, Rublev continued to dictate on his first serve, winning 93 per cent of points behind his opening delivery, according to Infosys ATP Stats. The 26-year-old took large cuts off the forehand and refused to miss in lengthy exchanges to improve to 5-1 in their Head2Head series. Rublev dropped to the floor after winning the trophy before embracing Auger-Aliassime.