By John Delong
Andrey Rublev is one of the hottest players on the ATP World Tour these days, and that hot streak continued on Wednesday night.
The 21-year-old Russian got revenge against Sam Querrey with a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (10) victory that vaulted him into Thursday night’s quarterfinals against Denis Shapovalov.
Rublev came to Winston-Salem after reaching the quarterfinals at Cincinnati, where he beat Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka before losing to friend and 2018 WSO champion Daniil Medvedev. Before that, Rublev reached the finals in Hamburg with a win over Dominic Thiem along the way.
Rublev had lost to Querrey in straight sets at Wimbledon six weeks ago, falling 3-6, 2-6, 3-6. So the revenge was sweet indeed.
“It’s a special win for me because one month and a half or two months ago I played against him at Wimbledon and I had no chance, he just destroyed me,” Rublev said. “The first time I played him I said I had no chance at all. So it was great to play the way I played tonight. I have had three amazing matches here so I am happy with the way I am playing.”
Rublev came into the match ranked No. 47, while Querrey checked in at No. 46.
“I would say I am playing very well,” Rublev said. “We’ll see if I can keep it up a little bit more. Sometimes I can play really well and then the next day not so good, but some days it can be even better. So hopefully I can keep this thing going and play well again tomorrow.”
In a late-afternoon match, second-seeded Denis Shapovalov was dominant in a 6-2, 6-3 victory over 13th-seeded Miomir Kecmanovic in a battle of NextGen stars.
Shapovalov had similarly cruised past Tennys Sandgren in the second round, so he’s looking very formidable.
“I’m definitely happy with the win today,” Shapovalov said. “He is a very tough opponent and we’ve had some really tough battles in the past, so to win in straight sets today is great. I think I played pretty clean except for the middle of the second set, but I think I did a good job all in all.”
Shapovalov said he is happy with the state of his game.
“My game’s been there, it’s a little more mental for me lately,” he said. “I’m happy with where my game is right now. Right now I’m just enjoying myself. This is a no-stress week, just trying to work on a couple of things and get ready for New York, so I’m happy with where my game is.”
Earlier in the day, top-seeded Benoit Paire survived a scare, as he rallied from a set and a break down to outlast fellow Frenchman Ugo Humbert 3-6, 7-6, 6-3. Humbert was serving for the match at 6-5 in the second set and Paire broke, then dominated the tiebreak and the third set.
Paire was pleased with his performance.
“I’m happy to win against him,” Paire said. “He is a tough guy to beat. It was a tough match but I’m happy with the way I played. He played two very good sets but I was able to survive. The third set I said I needed to make it mine, and I did. I’m just happy to be able to win.”
Paire said it was always difficult to play a countryman and friend like Humbert.
“He’s a good guy,” Paire said. “I practice with him at Wimbledon. I never played him in a tournament, but whenever you play against someone from your country you want to win. So I’m happy I was able to win today.”
Paire will face 2016 WSO champion Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
In the first match on Center Court, Steve Johnson had little trouble in dispatching 12th-seeded Casper Rudd 6-2, 7-6.
Johnson, last year’s WSO runner-up to Daniil Medvedev, has now reached the quarterfinals three straight years and four times in the last five.
“I thought I played well,” Johnson said. “I thought I fought hard and got out of a couple of sticky situations and so I’m happy to be in the quarterfinals. I’m happy with how I’m playing. Hopefully I’ll do the same thing tomorrow and keep sharpening my game toward the end of the week.”
Johnson was playing his third match in two days, after he was pressed into double duty on Tuesday with wins over Corentin Moutet and Daniel Evans.
“It’s definitely tough to come back after playing two matches in one day,” Johnson said. “But it’s a tournament. You’re in tournament mode. Luckily yesterday I thought I played well and took care of business and it wasn’t an extremely long day at the office. I was happy to get through those the way I did, without too many bumps and bruises. I feel like I’m playing well.”
In other Wednesday matches, John Millman beat Robin Haase 6-3, 6-4; Hubert Hurkacz beat Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 3-1 ret.; Carreno Busta beat Lorenzo Sonego 7-6, 6-0; and Frances Tiafoe beat Filip Krajinovic 6-2, ret.