Boxer's son Rublev refuses to be counted out at Roland Garros

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Andrey Rublev
Andrey Rublev
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Andrey Rublev has been on the ropes numerous times at Roland Garros, but so far nobody has delivered the knockout blow for the Moscow-born, battle-hardened son of a boxer.

On Monday, Rublev reached his first Roland Garros quarter-final with a 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) win over Marton Fucsovics of Hungary.

In a match which featured 12 breaks of serve, the 22-year-old had been a break down in the second and third sets. He also had to save three set points in the fourth.

In four matches at the tournament, his opponents have served for sets on eight occasions but Rublev has been equal to the task every time.

In the first round, he had to fight back from two sets down for the first time in his career to defeat American giant Sam Querrey.

It's a steeliness forged by the heartache of missing the last two editions of the French Open -- in 2018, he was sidelined for three months with a lower back injury while last year it was a wrist problem which required six weeks of rest which kept him again away from Paris.

"For sure I appreciate much more things now inside the court and outside the court," said the 13th seed who has now reached back-to-back quarter-finals at the Slams after his second career run to the last eight at the US Open last month.

"You always become mentally stronger no matter what happened. If you take the lesson in the right way, you can be stronger mentally. So of course in my case it helps me. But if you ask me I would prefer to not have these injuries."

Rublev's path to the last eight allows him to emulate some major heavyweight talents from Russia -- former champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov made the quarter-finals five times, Nikolay Davydenko four times and mercurial Marat Safin achieved it twice.

Rublev is also one of 2020's in-form players. His three titles -- in Doha, Adelaide and on clay in Hamburg -- are second only to Novak Djokovic's four.

He puts his success down to a new mindset compared to his carefree early days when he was world junior number one and captured the 2014 boys title at the French Open.

"I would say at that time I was not even a player," he insisted.

"I was completely different. I was a kid. I was doing stupid things on court, off court. I really loved tennis. I was working really hard when I was a kid. But I didn't understand at that moment what tennis is.

"I didn't understand what you need to do on court, what you need to do out of court. I was just hitting, practising, hitting, because I love it, but without thinking how to play, what you need to do, how to defend and all these little details. I didn't even know how it works."

Standing in his way of a semi-final place at Roland Garros is Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, the fifth seed who will also be playing in his first Roland Garros quarter-final.

Rublev has a 2-0 record over his fellow 22-year-old, including on clay in the Hamburg final on the eve of the French Open.

Tsitsipas overcame an eye problem to become the first Greek to reach the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 7-6 (11/9), 6-2 win over Grigor Dimitrov.

He has now won 12 successive sets at the tournament having been two sets down to Jaume Munar in the opening round.

"I had a problem with my eye so that's why I had to call the doctor. It happened in my earlier matches too. It's still red and irritated," he explained.

On Monday, he saved three set points in the second set tiebreaker while frustrating 18th seed Dimitrov by saving the only three break points he faced.

"The tiebreak was where the money was," said Tsitsipas who fell in a five-setter to former champion Stan Wawrinka in the last 16 in 2019.

French Open results at Roland Garros on Monday, the ninth day of the delayed 2020 championship (x denotes seeded player):

Men

4th round

Andrey Rublev (RUS x13) bt Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)

Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x5) bt Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x18) 6-3, 7-6 (11/9), 6-2

Women

4th round

Petra Kvitova (CZE x7) bt Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-2, 6-4

Laura Siegemund (GER) bt Paula Badosa (ESP) 7-5, 6-2

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