Andrey Rublev admits big controversy could be ‘stuck in my mind’

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Defending Monte Carlo Masters champion Andrey Rublev admits his controversial Dubai default could have “stuck in my mind” following a poor run of form since the incident.

World No 6 Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final match against Alexander Bublik at the Dubai Tennis Championships while trailing 5-6 in the deciding set, after appearing to swear directly at a line judge.

Since the incident at the beginning of March there has been a noticeable drop in his form, with the Russian failing to make any impact across the Sunshine Double.

He suffered a comprehensive 6-4, 6-4 defeat to Jiri Lehecka in the third round at Indian Wells, before losing his opening match in Miami to Tomas Machac by the same scoreline.

In contrast, Rublev had started the year by winning his 15th career ATP title in Hong Kong, before reaching the 10th Grand Slam quarter-final of his career at the Australian Open.

Ahead of the first Masters 1000 event of the clay court season, the former world No 5 conceded in a pre-event interview that the effects of his exit in Dubai may still have lingered across action in the US.

He said: “In Indian Wells I was so focused on trying to control my movements that I was completely stuck. I had no more energy, I didn’t have the strength.

“And in Miami, I exploded. I could no longer control myself, my actions, my nerves. I felt like I was paralyzed, I couldn’t move.

“Maybe what happened in Dubai stuck in my mind.”

Rublev will need a sharp turnaround in form this week, as he looks to defend his Monte Carlo title – and the 1,000 ranking points that come with it.

His first – and to date, only – Masters 1000 title came in Monte Carlo 12 months ago, where he rallied from a break down in the deciding set to beat Holger Rune in the final.

But he admitted that he was trying not to think about last year’s triumph too much, ahead of a new campaign at the famed event.

“It’s a pleasure to come back here. It’s always a pleasure to come and play on this magnificent course,” he commented.

“Of course, I have great memories. Even before I won I had a lot of them and I’m always very happy to come back. During the year I sometimes think about my victory, especially when I watch videos on social media. It makes me feel like I’m there.

“But since I arrived, I try not to think about it too much and stay focused on my performance.”

Seeded sixth at the tournament, Rublev has received a bye in the opening round and is set to face world No 1 Novak Djokovic in the last eight.

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