Seventh seed Andrey Rublev closed out the action on Pietrangeli with a hard-fought 6-4, 6-4 victory over 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut on Thursday to reach his first quarter-final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
It was the pair’s third meeting of the season, with Bautista Agut ending Rublev’s nine-match winning streak at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha and the Russian gaining his revenge en route to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final a few weeks later.
At the Foro Italico, the Russian fired 23 winners to Bautista Agut’s 12 (including five aces) to improve his ATP Head2Head record against the Spaniard to 3-3 and claim a tour-leading 29th victory (tied with Tsitsipas) of the year.
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Rublev got off to an early break in both sets, but the 10th-seeded Spaniard never let him race too far ahead. He met Rublev blow-for-blow at the baseline, and honed in on his vulnerable second serves to get a break back for 4-2 in the opening set, and saved four more break points to get within a game of levelling the score. But Rublev slammed the door shut with a series of forehand winners late in the set to maintain his one-break lead and close out the opening set.
With night falling in Rome – and the Eternal City’s 10pm curfew rapidly approaching – Rublev and Bautista Agut remained locked in battle with one break apiece in the second set as fans cleared out of Pietrangeli. After the brief delay, it was Rublev who refocussed first, quickly breaking to 30 at 5-4 before closing out the victory in an hour and 29 minutes.
Doha finalist Bautista Agut was bidding to reach his first clay-court quarter-final of the year, and had won three of his last four matches against the Top 10 in the FedEx ATP Rankings coming into the match.