Teenage Russian tennis star Andrey Rublev is returning to the Liverpool International next week – just 12 months after he shocked tournament organisers by reaching last year’s final.
The then French Open junior champion was edged out by 36-year-old American Michael Russell in a two-hour final. Russell later said: “He has a massive forehand. He is definitely a star for the future.”
While tournament organiser Anders Borg, the man who brought Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki to Merseyside long before they were ranked number one in the world, added: “I firmly believe he can be the next Djokovic. We have quite a knack at this tournament of identifying world-class players just before they explode.
“Rublev is the next one of these breakout stars.
“Fans will see what I mean for themselves when they come to the tournament, which begins on Thursday, June 18 and runs until Sunday, June 21.”
Last year, aged just 16, Rubley became the first Russian to win the junior title at Roland Garros since 1966.
Since then he has played Davis Cup tennis, partnering Konstantin Kravchuk in a second round play-off against the Portuguese team of Elias and Sousa, and has already claimed a slice of tennis history.
By beating Jarkko Nieminen at the Geneva Open he repeated Rafael Nadal’s feat of becoming an under-18-year old to win at least once in five separate ATP tournaments in one season. Nadal achieved that feat in 2004.
After ending last year ranked 517 in the singles rankings, Rublev is already up to 235 and expected to climb much higher.
He will be joined at Liverpool Cricket Club by current British number two Aljaz Bedene in the ATP event, while Mansour Bahrami, Peter McNamara, Anders Jarryd and Jeremy Bates will perform in the legends event.
Featured in Liverpool Echo.