Rublev beats Sonego for 5th title of 2020 season
By ERIC WILLEMSEN
VIENNA (AP) Andrey Rublev won his fifth ATP title of the season after beating unheralded Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 6-4 at the Erste Bank Open on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Russian credits keeping his emotions in check for turning 2020 into his most successful season.
"I am complaining a lot on court but that is the thing that I need to change. I think this week I did it really well, I was not really complaining much, I was not really showing emotions much. It was one of the calmest weeks I have ever played," said the eighth-ranked Rublev, who entered the top 10 last month.
Rublev has won three of his last four tournaments, improving to 7-2 in career finals, and Sunday's win earned him a berth for the season-ending ATP Finals in London.
"I am happy that I won the title here, I am happy that I will compete in London for the first time", Rublev said.
"It's going to be a really good challenge for me to see what exactly I need to improve to be at that level to be able to compete against top eight payers."
Rublev said he might have to work even more on his temperament.
"It can be even better if we compare with the top players. I did a good job this week and this is the right direction and I need to move in this way and to be always positive," he said.
Rublev became the first player in this shortened season with five titles, one more than Novak Djokovic. No other player has won more than two tournaments.
In the final, Rublev dominated play with his powerful ground strokes and dropped just one point in his first four service games.
However, he faced two break points at 5-4 but saved them both to close out the opening set.
The second went with serve until 4-4, when Rublev's strong returning earned him another break.
Rublev, who didn't drop a service game in the entire tournament, wrapped up the win in the next game, when Sonego hit a return long on the Russian's first match point.
"This tournament is really special for me because my grandmother was Austrian so I have Austrian blood. It's a really special title for me," Rublev said.
By winning the final, Rublev improved to 39-7 for the season, matching Djokovic's number of wins. No other player won more than 28 matches.
Sonego appeared in his second career final, after winning in Antalya in 2019.
The 42nd-ranked Italian had lost in qualification a week ago but was added to the main draw to replace the injured Diego Schwartzman. He didn't drop a set in his way to the final, which included a 6-2, 6-1 quarterfinal win over Djokovic.
"This was my best tournament in my life, I played my best tennis in my life, for sure, I beat the No. 1 player in the world," Sonego said.
"It's an amazing week. Today was not so easy because Rublev has confidence, this was his fifth final in one year," he added. "This is amazing."
More AP tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Updated November 1, 2020