The Secret of Andrey Rublev’s Rise
Revealed: The Secret of Andrey Rublev’s Rise
Andrey Rublev has been touted as a future star in men’s tennis since being ranked No. 1 junior in 2014 and winning the first ITF Junior Masters in Chengdu, China in 2015.
He made his mark on the ATP Tour in 2017, when he reached the quarter-finals of the US Open, earning notable scalps from seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov and ninth-seeded David Goffin. . He also won his first title, winning the Umag Open.
Rublev has always been known for his booming shots on the ground and the high intensity with which he trains and plays every game. What has stopped his progress, until recently, is the lack of power behind his serve.
Service is potentially the most important part of a professional tennis player’s arsenal. Being able to easily stick and earn free points on the serve is crucial. If you are able to use your first serve as a weapon, you can put pressure on your opponent by maintaining the serve effortlessly. This can be enough to win a tennis match and is exemplified by players such as Isner and Karlovic. The two aren’t known to be great comebacks, but what makes them hard to beat are their dominant serves.
That Rublev worked to be more efficient behind his own service, is shown by the attached figure. In 2017, Rublev gained 69% of the points behind his first serve and 50% behind his second serve. While the second serve percentage has increased slightly over the past 4 years, his points earned behind his first serve have increased significantly by 10%, from 69% in 2017 to 79% in 2020. That compares well to top players. , like Djokovic. and Nadal managed just 75% and 74% respectively for the 2020 season. This noticeable improvement behind his first serve also coincided with Rublev’s most successful season. He won 5 titles in 2020, matched only by Djokovic, and received an award for being the most improved player on the ATP Tour.
It doesn’t look like Rublev intends to slow down his impressive progress. In the 2021 ATP Cup he won 84% of the points behind his first serve and he seems to pick up where he left off at the end of the 2020 season.
Luka Elliott holds a B Com in Economics and Statistics from the University of Cape Town. His thesis was titled “Engineering Functionalities for Predicting Tennis Match Results in a Statistical Learning Framework”. He now writes for Tennishead focusing on how stats affect the outcome of ATP matches.