Rublev feeling 'completely empty' after Sonego loss

 - Nick McCarvel

No.7 seed had a two-sets-to-love lead. He now turns his attention to grass.

Andrey Rublev, Roland-Garros 2023, third round© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

Failing to convert a two-sets-to-love lead in the third round against Italian Lorenzo Sonego, No.7 seed Andrey Rublev has admitted to feeling “completely empty” after the loss.

“Not much to say I think,” said Rublev, who won his first Masters 1000 title on clay in Monte-Carlo this season. “The way that I was playing today, I deserve to lose. This time I think it will be faster for me [to get over it].”

Ever the open book, Rublev has been outspoken about putting too much pressure on himself, especially at the majors, where he has now reached seven quarter-finals but never gone further.

Rublev misses out, too, on a fourth-round clash with close friend and compatriot Karen Khachanov, whom he’s traded clay-court wins with this season.

Wimbledon awaits

The 25-year-old Rublev has become a Grand Slam threat in the men’s game, but has yet to level up when the moment counts most.

But he now turns his attention to the grass season, which will culminate with Wimbledon in early July. It’s his least successful major, Rublev just 5-3 at the All England Club.

“One positive thing I will have now is the two-and-a-half weeks to prepare well for the grass,” Rublev said. “I still need to improve a lot of things to be able to play more consistent. But also, since Monte-Carlo, I was playing non-stop. We didn't really have much time. We only had one or two weeks of good practices.”

Rublev played 19 clay matches this European spring, beginning with his Monte-Carlo run, where he beat Holger Rune in an enthralling final.

But in a way he was a victim of his own success: A plethora of match-wins meant less practice.

Andrey Rublev & Lorenzo Sonego / 3e tour Roland-Garros 2023©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

‘It’s more about my level’

Rublev heralded the “full power” of Sonego, particularly in the fourth and fifth sets, but the No.7 seed – with no men’s major champions left on his side of the draw – sees an opportunity lost.

“I think it's more about my level; it's not good enough now,” he said of the 5-7, 0-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 loss. “It's more important for me to go back and improve the level of my game.”

Rublev said he tried to play “more free” in the third set after opening a two-set lead, but he got too loose, making “easy mistakes,” he said.

“I don’t know... I have many, many thoughts,” Rublev said with a sigh. “In the fourth set I think we were equal. Just a few points were not on my side. In the fifth set, he played really well. He started to hit full power. He started to play really well but still I had some opportunities.”