Andrey Rublev, 23, hopes he is a better player than he was the last time he played at the Indian Wells Masters.
Rublev, who is enjoying a career-high ranking of No. 5 in the world, ousted Carlos Taberner 6-3 6-4 in his opener at the Indian Wells Masters.
Rublev made a perfect start to the match, having taken an early 3-0 lead.
Rublev failed to convert any of his two set points in the eighth game but served out for the opener a game later.
Rublev blew an early second-set break but broke Taberner again in the ninth game and served out for the match in the 10th game.
“I feel the same [as two years ago]. Of course, I hope I improved a lot and obviously if I’m [No.] 5 in the world, I should [have] improved,” Rublev said in his on-court interview, per the ATP website. “Hopefully I improved all my skills, all my shots, plus hopefully I’m better physically, mental part and that’s why I hope I’m a better player.”
Rublev speaks on the challenging conditions in Indian Wells
“It’s super tough to hit a winner and it’s a huge difference compared to when you practise even in the afternoon at 4 p.m. or 3 p.m.,” Rublev said. “But it’s part of our sport. Sometimes you play late matches and this can happen. The way I played today, I really enjoyed and we’ll see what’s going to happen next.”
Rublev admitted that Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem being sidelined for a good part of the season helped him break into the top-5.
“My place as world number 5? I’m a little lucky. It’s true that I had a good season, surely my best. But I took advantage of the fact that Rafael Nadal didn’t play a lot of tournaments. Dominic Thiem was also injured. Both have lost a lot of points in the standings. I passed them but I was a bit lucky,” Rublev said