Rublev reaches Qatar semi-finals, gets Australian seeded spot
Rising Russian star Andrey Rublev blasted his way through to the semi-finals of the Qatar Open on Thursday, with a straight sets victory against Borna Coric, which also secured his seeding at this month's Australian Open.
The 20-year-old won 6-3, 7-5 following a display of powerful hitting against a Croatian opponent who had accounted for the number two seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the first round.
Rublev, the current world number 39, will see his ranking rise to at least 33 after Doha and with injuries to other players he is now assured of being among the seeds in Melbourne, the season's first Grand Slam, which starts on January 15.
"It's great for me to hear that I'm going to be seeded in the Australian Open for the first time," said Rublev who was ranked a lowly 156 in the world this time last year.
"I hope I can show great things there and I will try to do my best."
It is the first time Rublev, who reached the quarter-finals of last year's US Open, will have been seeded at a Grand Slam.
He has confirmed his status as one of the game's emerging stars with a series of dominant performances this week and on Thursday he hit 35 winners.
A break of Coric's serve in the eleventh game of the final set proved decisive before he served out for victory.
Asked if he felt more pressure after being identified as one of the sport's emerging stars, Rublev replied: "I'm not really thinking about it because it's still a long, long way to be like a top player, and it's still a long way to improve to compete with top players to try to beat them."
Rublev also revealed he is superstitious and will only eat fruits and omelette for breakfast during the tournament.
He will play Guido Pella in the semi-finals.
The Argentinian, ranked 64, easily saw off Bosnian qualifier Mirza Basic 6-2, 6-3.
Also through is the number one seed and world number five, Austria's Dominic Thiem.
He beat another highly-rated youngster, Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas, 7-5, 6-4.
Thiem, who is the only seed left in the competition, broke his opponent's serve twice in the first set, and crucially in the ninth game of the second to secure victory.
"It was my best game for sure, so far," said Thiem.
Tsitsipas, 19, was the youngest quarter-finalist in Doha for more than a decade.
The final quarter-final, also to be played on Thursday, is between French wildcard Gael Monfils and Germany's Peter Gojowczyk.
© 2018 AFP