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Rublev 'too predictable' against Djokovic, says Russian tennis chief

Shamil Tarpishchev noted that Novak Djokovic the favorite to win the tournament if his injury didn’t get in the way

MOSCOW, January 25. /TASS/. Russia’s Andrey Rublev was too predictable in his match against opponent Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals of the 2023 Australian Open, President of the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF) Shamil Tarpishchev told TASS on Wednesday.

Russia’s top tennis player Rublev lost to Serbia's Novak Djokovic earlier on Wednesday in a quarterfinal match at the 2023 Australian Open. In the match at the Rod Laver Arena that lasted for 2 hours and three minutes, the 4th-seeded Djokovic breezed past 5th-seed Rublev in three sets: 6-1; 6-2; 6-4.

"Rublev was too predictable for Djokovic. It was easy for him [Djokovic] to handle any delivered ball, because everything was obvious," Tarpishchev said.

"Andrey [Rublev] was aiming at smashing a hole in his [Djokovic’s] defense, but I must say that there was no subtlety in his game," the RTF president continued. "He wanted to score, but it is nearly impossible on such soft courts. Djokovic’s technical and tactical arsenal was much better."

Tarpishchev also called Djokovic the favorite to win this year’s opening Grand Slam tournament although the Serb asked for numerous medical breaks citing a previously sustained leg injury.

"He is the favorite to win if his injury doesn’t get in the way," Tarpishchev said, speaking about Djokovic. "The courts allow him to be creative, although it is still unclear what is wrong with his leg and the injury."

Djokovic, 35, boasts 92 wins on the ATP circuit and he is currently the world’s No. 5 ranked player. The Serbian is the winner of 21 Grand Slam titles (nine Australian Opens, seven Wimbledons, three US Opens and two French Opens).

Rublev, 25, is currently ranked 6th in the ATP (the Association of Tennis Professionals) Ranking List and he is the winner of 12 ATP tournaments. He has also appeared in numerous Grand Slam tournaments, never going further than the quarterfinals. While playing for the Russian national team, he took home the gold at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in mixed doubles (with teammate Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova) and also won the 2021 Davis Cup.

The 2023 Australian Open tournament is played on hard courts at Melbourne Park between January 16 and 29 and it has $53.4 million in prize money up for grabs. The opening tournament of the annual Grand Slam series in Australia marks its 111th edition this year. Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Australia’s Ashleigh Barty are the reigning Australian Open champions in men’s and women’s singles respectively.

The Russian men's singles champions at the Australian Open tournaments were Yevgeny Kafelnikov (1999) and Marat Safin (2005). Russia’s Daniil Medvedev reached the final of the tournament in Melbourne last year, but eventually lost to Rafael Nadal of Spain.