Andrey Rublev will open his 2021 Italian Open campaign with a second-round encounter against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff on Wednesday.
Rublev, who has had a bit of a mixed start to the claycourt season. will be looking to steady the ship ahead of Roland Garros. Against an in-form Struff though, the Russian faces a tough opponent at the very first hurdle.
Struff is currently in the midst of a late-career surge. The 31-year-old has scored a total of six wins against top 10 players over the last couple of seasons, and has looked very comfortable on the court in recent times.
Struff also reached his first tour final at the recently-concluded Munich event, and will be looking to extend his purple patch here in Rome.
Andrey Rublev and Jan-Lennard Struff have split their last four meetings, so their current head-to-head stands at a 2-2 deadlock. Rublev needed three sets to hold off the German in their most recent meeting, which came at the ATP Cup earlier this year.
Andrey Rublev had beaten claycourt experts Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud en-route to the final at the Monte Carlo Masters. But he hasn’t quite managed to replicate those results elsewhere, and will enter the tournament looking to move past the early exits in his last two outings.
The Russian lost to John Isner in his most recent match, and will need to enter the contest against Jan-Lennard Struff with a better game plan. Struff plays an aggressive brand of tennis that’s somewhat similar to that of Isner’s, so Rublev can’t afford to repeat the same patterns that he used in Madrid.
The seventh seed should expect some tough resistance from Struff, who enjoys playing in these conditions. That said, if he can find a way to make inroads into some of the German’s service games early, Rublev could find himself in a strong position to close out a win in this one.