Russian tennis earned another impressive victory on Sunday as Andrey Rublev won his fourth successive ATP 500 title with victory in Rotterdam.
The 23-year-old added the title to recent wins in Hamburg, St. Petersburg and Vienna with a straight sets win over Marton Fucsovics.
And, as Daniil Medvedev became the first non ‘big four’ player to enter the world’s top two since Lleyton Hewitt, Russian tennis continues to go from strength to strength.
Medvedev has cracked Masters 1000 level, won the ATP Finals and reached two Slam finals in recent times.
So how long will it take Rublev to replicate his countryman’s success?
Rublev looked unbeatable in Rotterdam, but has a way to go
Rublev has lost just five of his last 39 matches – while clinching four ATP Titles and helping Russia to the ATP Cup in Melbourne.
Those five losses tell us exactly where Rublev must improve to be truly spoken about alongside the world’s best.
The defeats have come to Stefanos Tsitsipas (twice), Rafael Nadal, Danill Medvedev and Stan Wawrinka.
Only the latter would have been an underdog against Rublev, and not a major one at that.
Two of the defeats (vs Tsitsipas and Medvedev) came in Grand Slam quarter-finals. Two others came at the ATP Finals in November.
Rublev has proven to be a safe bet against players ranked lower than himself, but he must find a way to get the better of top-ten players on the biggest stages.
He will be a contender for this month’s Miami Open – and success at that level could pave the way for further growth.
That, and a Grand Slam semi-final, should be his realistic aims for 2021.