2020 has been nothing short of breathtaking for Russia’s Andrey Rublev.
On Sunday in Hamburg, he continued that trend, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas to become only the second ATP player to claim at least three titles in 2020.
Playing RG for the first time since 2017, the Russian 2014 junior champion arrives to Paris in scintillating form
At just 22 years of age, Rublev sits at a career-high ranking of 12 in the world and could crack the top 10 with a solid performance over the Paris fortnight.
He was forced to miss Roland-Garros last season through injury and is making just his second ever appearance in the main draw here.
His only previous showing in the men's event was a first-round defeat in 2017, but Rublev has a strong connection to the French capital having lifted the Roland-Garros junior trophy back in 2014.
Here's a closer look at the numbers behind Rublev’s rise...
The Moscow native has more than doubled his title count in 2020 by claiming trophies in Adelaide, Doha and Hamburg.
This January, Rublev became the first ATP player to start a season by winning two consecutive titles since Dominik Hrbaty in 2004.
He has won all three of his finals this season, and only Novak Djokovic (4) has earned more titles than Rublev on tour in 2020.
Rublev trails only Djokovic (31) with 25 match-wins in 2020. The Russian has lost just six times and his current 80.6 winning percentage is dramatically higher than his career average of 57.7.
He is now just 13 wins shy of his all-time best victory total for a single season, and this is coming in a year that had a five-month hiatus because of the pandemic.
With a 4-2 record against top-20 opposition this season, and seven top-10 victories to his name overall, Rublev has proven that he can beat anyone, on any surface.
Last year. Rublev gave fans a preview of his big-match prowess when he notched wins over Dominic Thiem on clay and Roger Federer on hard court. This year, for the first time in his career, he has won more than half of his matches against the top 20.
"The match with Roger, I was more impressed by Roger," Rublev said in Adelaide back in January.
"I was not thinking about myself at that time. I was thinking about him. But I think the one thing that I noticed that if I will do everything great, everything professional, everything good, I will take care of my body, I will try to improve all the things that I need to improve, that this level that I was playing with Roger can be my normal level.
“But for this I have to work a lot, a lot, a lot. Because this one match that happened with Roger, it happens only once. The next day we saw the real level,” he said laughing, referring to his defeat to his fellow Russian Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals.
Nine months later, Rublev is already showing more consistency against the top guys.
Rublev comes into Roland-Garros on a five-match winning streak. It’s not unfamiliar territory for him at all. He started 2020 by winning his first 11 matches, which took his overall winning streak at the time to 15.
"It’s amazing, I don’t even know how I did it. But I’m really happy that these two weeks were so amazing for me, I enjoyed them a lot," he said after lifting the trophies in Doha and Adelaide back-to-back.
Rublev, seeded 13 in Paris, will be seeking his first main-draw win at Roland-Garros when he faces Sam Querrey in his opening match.
He entered 2020 with a 15-16 overall record on clay. But don’t sleep on the Russian’s clay game. The world No.12 is 6-1 on clay this season, and now owns two titles on the surface overall, building on his success on the surface as a junior.
Rublev had to miss three months in 2018 with a right arm problem and a lower back stress fracture, and was also out for two months last year, which ruled him out of Roland Garros. As a teenager on the rise, it was not easy for him to accept such setbacks but now acknowledges it only made him stronger.
Rublev credits a recent psychological shift for much of his success of late. Always a fan of the mental side of tennis, he cites Rafael Nadal as one of his biggest heroes and seeks to emulate the Spaniard’s humble approach to competition.
Rublev, coached by Spaniard Fernando Vicente, says that when he returned from a wrist injury last season he learned to trust his process more than ever.
“After the wrist injury, I start to see some things little bit different in tennis,” he said. “For sure it helps me also to win some matches that I was not winning before. I start to appreciate more what I have because I know in the end, if I will be ready, in the long-term I will have some good weeks.”