Bublik serves up comeback in style

23.09.2021    Views: 115
Source: KTF press-service
Alex Sharp 
Home charge Alexander Bublik escaped an early exit after a trio of his title rivals lost at the ATP 250 Astana Open. Top seed Aslan Karatsev departed alongside No.3 seed Dusan Lajovic and No.4 seed Filip Krajinovic in Nur-Sultan on Thursday. However, world No.34 Bublik recovered from a shaky start to edge past close friend Miomir Kecmanovic 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 as the second seed book his quarter-final ticket. 
«I had no other options, I had to restart, to use my serve, because I didn’t want to see a two and two in a row. No one wants to see that. I tried to change it up a bit and I found my rhythm in the end,» stated the 24-year-old, admitting he was shackled in the opening exchanges. 
«I’ve never played well at home to be honest. Whether it’s St Petersburg or Astana. I don’t know why, maybe too much attention, friends, being here, there and everywhere.  
«So, I’m happy to get through, I played well in the second and third set. I got out from 0-40 scores, so it was good.» 
It was world No.60 Kecmanovic who was making bold moves in the beginning, but at the start of the second set, Bublik fended off immediate break points with a bullet backhand pass down the line and a searing second serve ace. It was a sign of the tennis to come, Bublik growing in confidence and conviction, displaying his full repertoire of shots to out-guess his opponent. 
«It’s not always up to me, but maybe I have more chances to get out of situations like this because of the explosiveness I have in my game, rather than someone who is grinding and looping the ball,» added the Kazakh favourite. «Maybe a tiny advantage.» 
With the match finely poised at 2-3 in the decider, Bublik blazed through a service game comprising of four consecutive aces. The pressure was right back on Kecmanovic, whereas Bublik kept going through the gears, striking a 227 km/h second serve ace, 18 in total, locked at five-all.  
«Three aces in a row is common, but I’m guessing I’ve done this around five times. It’s good. It means your serve is going well,» said the second seed with a smirk, having cajoled the crowd into celebration as he approached the winner’s circle.  
Bublik, who now faces world No.117 Carlos Taberner, said he relished playing with vocal local support. 
«Yeah playing at home, playing in front of Kazakh fans who love to see me here is a boost for everybody. Sometimes playing at home can be bad but for me it was really good,» added Bublik. «I’m just looking to enjoy my time here and let’s see where it gets me.» 
Emil Ruusuvuori continues to turn heads with his tennis and results. The 22-year-old saved set point in the opening tie-break and nullified the power of top seed Karatsev to post 7-6(6) 6-4 to launch into the quarter-finals.  
«It wasn’t the best match tennis wise from either of us. He had a little slow start, I couldn’t use my break lead, but I played a really good tie-break and I made some little adjustments, at the right times to finish in two,» stated the Finn, having taken out the 2021 breakout Russian. 
«It was a great match mentally against a very tough opponent, he’s shown us how he can play this season. His results talk for themselves, so I’m very happy for the win.» 
Ruusuvuori defeated world No.4 Alexander Zverev on his path to the Miami Masters last 16 and reached two ATP semi-finals on the American hard court swing. As a result, he’s an established Top 100 player already.  
«It’s been fast to here. There was the year I won four Challengers (2019), and then a very tough year for everybody, not just in tennis. Just before the tennis tournaments and the world stopped (Spring 2020), I was very close to cracking the Top 100,» reflected the world No.84. 
«After the restart I was able to make it happen, of course it was a big goal. Now it’s about defending points and going for even more points.» 
The 22-year-old will target more points against the in-form Belarusian Ilya Ivashka, who relinquished just three games against Ruusuvuori in the Winston-Salem semi-finals last month.  
«He was playing so well that week, he was cruising. It’s going to be nice to play him again,» said the Finn.  «If you look at everybody, he’s one of the toughest guys to face at the moment. «It’s a different place, different week, different conditions, so we’re going to prepare as best as possible and go for the win.»

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