New York: Russian teen Andrey Rublev spent years beating his head on the walls of success before finding the door this year and smashing it down on Thursday at the US Open.
The 19-year-old from Moscow advanced to a Grand Slam third round for the first time by shocking Bulgarian seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.
Rublev, ranked 53rd, advanced to a last-32 date with Bosnian Damir Dzumhur after dispatching a solid contender in Dimitrov, who was coming off his biggest career title two weeks ago at Cincinnati, for his first win over a top-10 rival.
It's a far cry from the kid who struggled in the junior ranks in 2016 until tossing out his coach and support staff and starting over.
"The way I was working, it was not the way to be pro-tennis player," Rublev said.
"I changed the team completely. In that moment starts the real work. And now I improved in this year. I improved much more than in all my tennis career."
Rublev compared his efforts to finding a door to unlock progress after banging on walls in frustration.
"When I was a junior, I was working hard. I was not doing some bad things. It's just this work was not for the pro," he said.
"Let's say you have a door and you can open the door and I was trying to open this door from the wall, you know? It was hitting the wall. You can work so hard like this, but you going to only get worse and worse."
"It was not that I was not working or I was lazy. It's just with this work is not going to come results. You going to only be worse and worse."
Rublev won his first ATP title in July at Umag, becoming the first lucky loser to capture a tour crown since Rajeev Ram in 2009 at Newport.
The Russian had lucky rituals in Croatia during his breakthrough week and has one this week in New York, eating at the same Japanese restaurant ahead of matches.
"We went to the same restaurant for dinner before first match and before this match. So two days in a row I went in the same restaurant," Rublev said.
"Tomorrow I'm not playing, so I can go somewhere else."
Rublev was down a break in each of the first two sets against Dimitrov but battled back to claim both.
"I was just thinking to try to focus, try to fight no matter even if I am losing with a break," Rublev said.
"And in the end, I was little bit lucky. I made a good few returns. I hit maybe few points close to the line.
"My style is just to play aggressive, try to play my rhythm because I have quite a good rhythm that I can play and compete with many good guys."
He might just get his chance to find it out with Belgian ninth seed David Goffin, a possible fourth-round foe and top-ranked Rafael Nadal a potential quarter-final opponent.
Updated Date: Sep 01, 2017 08:52:16 IST