Updated May 4th, 2024 at 09:19 IST

Rublev beats Fritz to reach Madrid Open final against Auger-Aliassime; Lehecka joins injured list

Andrey Rublev beat Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-3 and reached the final of the Madrid Open on Friday. Rublev broke Fritz once in each set while never seeing his serve in danger. The eighth-ranked Russian will face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Jiri Lehecka in Sunday’s final.

Andrey Rublev, of Russia, returns the ball to Taylor Fritz, of United States, during the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain | Image: AP

Andrey Rublev beat Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-3 on Friday to reach the Madrid Open final where he will meet Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime advanced after Jiri Lehecka had to retire at 3-3 in the first set of their semifinal and joined the list of players injured at the event.


The men’s final for the clay-court event is on Sunday.

The eighth-ranked Rublev entered Madrid on a four-game losing streak after early exits in Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He has won four straight in Spain’s capital, including against two-time defending champion Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals.


“It’s crazy,” Rublev said. “It’s the good thing about sports, about tennis. One week can change everything, you have to remember that ... because you can’t perform always at 100%, so it is normal there will be ups and downs.”

Rublev is seeking his 16th career title and his second of the season after winning Hong Kong in January. He has a 5-1 record against Auger-Aliassime, including a win in their sole matchup on clay.


Lehecka wept — and smashed his racket on the ground — when he called it quits due to an apparent back injury. Auger-Aliassime hugged him at the net to show his support for the 31st-ranked Czech, who knocked out Rafael Nadal on Wednesday.

This was the third time at the tournament that Auger-Aliassime moved on after his opponent had physical problems. His second-round opponent, Jakub Mensik, retired in their second set, and in the quarterfinals top-seeded Jannik Sinner said he couldn’t play due to a hip injury and gave Auger-Aliassime a walkover. The 35th-ranked Canadian, who beat Casper Ruud in the round-of-16, will be seeking his sixth career title.


“It’s crazy,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It’s kind of a weird situation to be in on my part. It’s never happened to me in my career, a withdrawal or a walkover or retirement of this sort, and back-to-back like this.

“I have a lot of empathy for Jiri, and I can’t do anything but try to prepare for Sunday.”


The men’s side has been hard hit by injuries and fitness concerns.

Novak Djokovic withdrew before the tournament. In addition to Sinner, Mensik, and Lehecka, Daniil Medvedev retired in the quarterfinals; Alcaraz was hampered by a sore right arm before he fell to Rublev; and Nadal did what he could before bowing out of what was likely his last appearance in his home country.


Fritz, ranked 13th, entered the match with a 5-3 record against Rublev.

After an evenly contested start, Rublev pounced by breaking Fritz from love on his last service game of the first set. He remained in control. Fritz hit seven aces — to Rublev’s five — but landed only 55% of his first serves. Rublev landed 75% of his first serves and struck 20 winners to Fritz’s 16.


“I could have played a lot better today,” Fritz said. “A lot of credit to Andrey. He served really well, made lots of first serves, in good spots, too. He pulled me off the court.”

On Saturday, top-ranked Iga Swiatek will face No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka in a repeat of last year’s women’s final won by Sabalenka.


Published May 4th, 2024 at 09:19 IST