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Andrey Rublev reaffirms hope for peace, reflects on viral documentary at Citi Open
The top seed spoke about the intersection of sport and politics after his first victory of the U.S. summer hard-court swing.
Published Aug 03, 2022
WATCH: Rublev played a full swing of post-Wimbledon clay before making the switch to hard courts in D.C.
Andrey Rublev wasn’t necessarily hoping his participation in an in-depth documentary would show tennis fans a new side of him, but he’ll take the compliment all the same.
“I don’t know, you see me from the new side? Then maybe yes,” he said with a smile at his Citi Open press conference. “Then it's good.”
Rublev’s face was already flushed from relief as he secured his first win of the U.S. summer hard-court swing, advancing, 6-4, 6-2 over Great Britain’s Jack Draper. Having missed Wimbledon due to the ban that precluded Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing, the Russian opted to ease back into tour life by booking a busy slate of clay-court tournaments, competing in both Bastad and Hamburg.
But Rublev refused to sacrifice the early start to his US Open prep, one that has become a yearly ritual, and even arrived early to take part in pre-tournament promotion.
I think it's important to use the platform, especially the tennis platform that, for the good things, that is, how it's important to take care of each other, how it's important to have a peace all around the world. Andrey Rublev
“I have a good story with D.C., because when I play here first-ever time, 2018, it was my first-ever semifinal on ATP 500 level. So, it was a special moment for me.
“Then when I was coming 2019, the last time, I was going through not easy time, because I was just coming back from injury and I was actually—everybody was telling me not to play here because I just did Hamburg final, and I flew straightaway—after Hamburg final I flew straightaway on Monday to Washington, and on Tuesday I was playing.
“Everyone was playing telling me not to play. I say, ‘No, I want to play because I like Washington a lot.’ Yeah, I think I lost 7-6 in the third. I could not even lose easy!”
Rublev was unseeded that year, and though he returns to the Citi Open atop the 2022 men’s draw, the 24-year-old remains unafraid of adversity or unpopular opinions. He was one of the first Russians to publicly oppose his country’s invasion into Ukraine, and backed up that position in a documentary alongside compatriot Daria Kasatkina.
Presented by vlogger Vitya Kravchenko, Rublev and Kasatkina took tennis fans all around their Barcelona training base and granted no-holds-barred interviews that discussed an array of politics and social issues. Though the video caused controversy at home, Rublev was heartened by the wider praise he felt from the wider tennis and sporting communities.
“I think the video that we made was super positive, that, I don't know, almost 90 or even more percent of the people was writing only positive, really good things, that me, I didn't even expect.
“The experience was fun, because I think now, I mean, I don't know, because I'm still quite young and I don't know the history of all the earth, but at least at my age, I think it's one of the toughest now time, and I think it's important to use the platform, especially the tennis platform that, for the good things, that is, how it's important to take care of each other, how it's important to have a peace all around the world.”
Rublev went on to express hope that sport, or at least tennis, could one day transcend politics—but it that dream will require a group effort.
“Of course, I think politics were always in sport. Everybody knows this. But I do believe that by being united and doing good things for the peace, tennis can be, in general. If tennis will be example of it, maybe other sports will follow, and in general, maybe one day sport can be without politics.
“Obviously at least I believe that tennis can be without politics, because tennis is something that is independent. I think it's one of very few sports that's independent from the rest of the sports. We have players from everywhere. We play every country. There is not one place that we are performing. We are traveling all around the world.
“I think tennis have a good chance to be outside of politics, because we have all the nations. We have boys and girls, so many, all the continents, so many countries, so many tournaments per year, and I think then it depends already of the persons who works in ATP, WTA, also the players, because in the end you have to start from yourself.
“If each of us start first from ourselves, then maybe at least I do believe in this, yeah.”
Rublev will take his inspiring message into the third round, where either Jack Sock or No. 13 seed Maxime Cressy await.