It was a little more than two years ago, when Félix Auger-Aliassime and Andrey Rublev last met.
The 2020 Adelaide semifinal was their second career meeting. And as with the first, on clay in Croatia, it was an absolute battle.
Open Court had never watched a full Rublev match right from courtside before. And the firepower from that forehand was absolutely breathtaking.
It was all Auger-Aliassime could do to keep up with it. But he did – until the very end.
After two hours and 59 minutes, Rublev prevailed 76 (5), 67 (7), 64 and went on to win the tournament.
In the end, it was one of those “next-gen” matches that gave you a lot of hope for the future.
Here’s what it looked like from courtside.
Third meeting in Rotterdam
The two meet again Saturday in the semifinals of Rotterdam.
You could argue that Rublev has stood … somewhat stagnant since that last meeting. In other words, he’s not measurably better now than he was in Adelaide that night.
On the other hand, Auger-Aliassime appears to have taken some significant leaps forward since then. Notably, with the aggressiveness and consistency of the second serve.
Rublev was ranked No. 18 then, Auger-Aliassime No. 22.
This week, Rublev is at No. 7, Auger-Aliassime at a career-best No.9.