Melbourne: “Sound the alarm! The Russians are coming,” feels like Chilly Warfare paranoia however when utilized to the world of males’s tennis it is perhaps value sitting up and taking discover.
Since Marat Safin received the Australian Open in 2005, no Russian man has reached a grand slam closing and solely Nikolay Davydenko and nonetheless energetic Mikhail Youzhny have come shut.
It has been a special story within the ladies’s recreation throughout that interval with Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova profitable slams and Vera Zvonareva and Safin’s sister, former world No. 1, Dinara Safina reaching finals.
Girls’s bragging rights is perhaps coming to an finish although.
In younger firebrands Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev, Russia has a fearless trio of gamers all aged 21 or beneath who’re decided to set the document straight.
All of them performed on the ATP’s NextGen Finals in Milan in November the place Rublev reached the ultimate.
Final week, the 20-year-old started his season in fashion to succeed in the Qatar Open closing, which pushed him to a career-high 32 within the rankings and a seeded place at subsequent week’s Australian Open.
Khachanov just isn’t far behind at 48 whereas the mercurial Medvedev, who shocked three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka at Wimbledon final yr, has been barely later creating and is ranked at 84.
The pugnacious Rublev, coached by Fernando Vicente, seems the most effective guess for a powerful run in Melbourne the place final yr he was taught a lesson by Britain’s then world primary Andy Murray, gathering solely 5 video games.
His recreation has caught fireplace since and former world No. 1 Mats Wilander is watching his progress with curiosity.
“I believe he’s going to have a breakthrough when it comes to rankings as a result of mentally he’s there, he’s constant, regardless that the way in which he performs is type of inconsistent as a result of he hits the ball so rattling arduous,” Wilander, who will current his day by day Sport, Set and Mats function for Eurosport in Melbourne, instructed Reuters in an interview.
“He fights so arduous. I don’t know whether or not will probably be high 10 or has a fantastic slam like he did on the US Open the place he obtained to the quarter-finals. That’s his mindset now, profitable slams, particularly while you’ve reached a quarter-final.”
Rublev admitted after dropping to South Korea’s Hyeon Chung within the NextGen closing that he wanted to beef up his physique and his work within the low season with Vicente and Galo Blanco in Barcelona already seems to have paid dividends.
“This time of my life, my profession is a very powerful as I lay the foundations for a powerful future,” he stated in Doha. “In working with Fernando and Galo in Barcelona through the low season, we labored on issues and weaknesses.”
The large-hitting Khachanov additionally trains in Barcelona and he and Rublev are agency mates, whereas Medvedev took a special path having taken up the game significantly at a later age.
Medvedev, 21, says the presence of a bunch of gamers of the identical age is a motivating issue, as is the prospect of emulating the charismatic former world No. 1 Safin.
“It’s an enormous contest for us,” Medvedev, who has educated within the south of France for the reason that age of 18, instructed Reuters. “We wish to climb the rankings as a gaggle, however on the identical time every one in every of us desires to be the primary in Russia.
“Marat was an idol of mine, particularly the way in which he crashed the rackets, and I hope that one in every of us could make half of what he did in tennis.”
The Russian revolution spreads additional too, when contemplating that Germany’s rising star Alexander Zverev, now ranked fourth on the earth, has Russian parentage and Canadian 18-year-old sensation Denis Shapovalov’s household additionally hail initially from the nation, transferring to Israel within the Nineteen Nineties.