By Toby Davis

LONDON (Reuters) -Andrey Rublev reaching the quarter-finals is one of the most predictable outcomes at a Grand Slam but there was nothing remotely routine about his five-set win over Alexander Bublik, his fourth round opponent at Wimbledon on Sunday.

Rublev, who has now reached the quarters eight times at the Grand Slams but has never made the last four, was seemingly cruising into the last eight when he took the first two sets on Centre Court.

Yet his Kazakh opponent somehow conjured a way back into the contest and ensured it went the distance before seventh seed Rublev wrapped up a 7-5 6-3 6-7(6) 6-7(5) 6-4 victory.

Had the Russian lost it would have been a remarkably bitter pill to swallow, having been two points away from victory in the third set tiebreak, passed up two match points in the fourth and led 5-3 in the second breaker only to lose four points in a row.

Having secured a decisive break to go up in the fifth, Rublev pulled off one of the most remarkable shots of the tournament so far with a diving forehand winner to bring up match point and then banged down an ace to finish the contest.

“Probably it was the most lucky shot ever,” he said in his on-court interview. “I don’t think I can do it (the shot) one more time.”

Rublev could be known as Mr Quarter-Final at the Grand Slams and his victory ensured he will now have a full set of last-eight appearances at the majors, having never reached that stage at Wimbledon before.

Whether he can go one step further at a major for the first time is a feat few will fancy him achieving at Wimbledon, with seven-time champion Novak Djokovic his likely next opponent, providing the Serb overcomes Hubert Hurkacz later on Sunday.


The six-foot-five-inch Bublik proved a far from conventional opponent for Rublev.

Combining a huge serve and forehand with an almost laissez-faire nonchalance that saw him throw in a handful of drop shots and a couple of underarm serves, Bublik was a puzzle that needed solving.

If Rublev was a refined piece of tennis engineering, Bublik was at times more agricultural, but the Kazakh is by no means a one-dimensional threshing machine.

While he made the most of his serve and clumping forehand, he was not afraid to mix up his game and keep Rublev guessing.

The 23rd-seeded Kazakh, who had beaten Rublev to win the title in Halle two weeks ago, was his own worst enemy at times with his serve going haywire at key moments.

He served two double faults in a row to hand Rublev the first set and another to gift the Russian what proved to be a decisive break point in the second.

Yet he threw in a couple of underarm serves, which has become a bit of a theme at this year’s Wimbledon, winning the points with both.

After taking the third set on a tiebreak he faced two match points at 4-5 down in the fourth, saving the first with a 135 mph second-serve ace and eventually winning the game with another huge serve.

He forced another tiebreak, which he won, leaping up and down as Rublev began to see the match possibly slipping from his grasp for the first time.

The Russian quickly regained his composure, however, and when Bublik served another double fault to gift Rublev a break point at 3-3 in the fifth the Russian pounced, breaking and consolidating to move 5-3 ahead before ending the contest.

“I was just thinking it doesn’t matter I lost the third set and fourth set,” he said. “I said if I keep playing I would have one chance and in the end I had it, played a really good volley and was able to break him.”

(Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Brought to you by