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Rublev, Draper on top after day one of UTS Grand Final in London

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Bren Gray
London 2023

The first day of the UTS Grand Final in London has concluded, with six matches taking place on the opening day of play at the ExCel London this Friday.

Big winners on the day were Andrey “Rublo” Rublev, who has qualified for the Final Four already courtesy his two wins in Group A, and Jack “The Power” Draper, who won a blockbusting evening match against fellow NextGen star Holger “The Viking” Rune.

With one day of group play remaining until the semi-finals are set in London, here’s a look at some of the big stories from the day.

Dominant Rublo books spot in Final Four at UTS Grand Final

After his performance on day one of the UTS Grand Final in London, Rublo has now won a record-breaking six UTS matches in a row, dating back to his second match at UTS Frankfurt by Builder.ai.

Round robin – Group A –

Rublo
Andrey Rublev

Rublo

Andrey Rublev

3
12 19 18 18
The Ice Man
Casper Ruud

The Ice Man

Casper Ruud

1
14 8 12 9

In fact, the only player to ever defeat Rublo in UTS is Diego “El Peque” Schwartzman, who overcame him 3-1 in the Russian’s first ever match this September. Today saw a reversal of that result, with Rublo winning a high-quality clash against the Argentinian in sudden death.

Both players were competing in their second match of the day, after El Peque had kicked off the day’s play with a win over Benoit “The Rebel” Paire in sudden death, before Rublo saw off Casper “The Iceman” Ruud 3-1 in the second match of the day.

Round robin – Group A –

El Peque
Diego Schwartzman

El Peque

Diego Schwartzman

3
11 14 21 16 5
The Rebel
Benoit Paire

The Rebel

Benoit Paire

2
17 13 10 17 4

An incredibly high level of tennis was produced by both Rublo and El Peque, with all the quarters being determined by slim margins, and the match going to sudden death. Across the course of the match, Rublo was the more aggressive player, which cost him on several occasions as he sprayed balls long on crucial points.

Round robin – Group A –

Rublo
Andrey Rublev

Rublo

Andrey Rublev

3
15 12 13 10 4
El Peque
Diego Schwartzman

El Peque

Diego Schwartzman

2
13 13 12 16 2

However, the world No 5 held his nerve when it mattered most, winning 4-3 in sudden death to go atop of Group A. With The Rebel losing the final fixture of the day 3-0 to The Iceman, Rublo is now guaranteed a spot in the Final Four on Sunday.

Round robin – Group A –

The Ice Man
Casper Ruud

The Ice Man

Casper Ruud

3
17 18 16
The Rebel
Benoit Paire

The Rebel

Benoit Paire

0
12 9 10

Home favourite Draper wins blockbuster against Rune

With only two matches completed in Group B on day one, it’s a little too early to determine who will be moving on from this section of the draw.

However, one thing is for sure: home star Jack “The Power” Draper is here to play. Featuring in an evening session blockbuster against Holger “The Viking” Rune, the Brit put on a dominant performance in his UTS debut, breezing past the Dane 16-8, 16-7, 17-11 to win by three quarters to love.

Round robin – Group B – December 15, 2023 8:30 pm

The Viking
Holger Rune

The Viking

Holger Rune

0
8 7 11
The Power
Jack Draper

The Power

Jack Draper

3
16 16 17

“I just played my game,” Draper said after the match, praising his opponent in the same breath: “Amazing to play Holger, [our] first match, he’s a young, exceptional player, top 10, someone I’ve been watching win a lot of big tournaments, so it’s nice to share the court with him in London.”

Tomorrow, The Power will face veterans Gael “La Monf” Monfils and Alexander “The Bublik Enemy” Bublik for a spot in the Final Four. The pair played earlier in the day, with La Monf putting in a scintillating performance to move past The Bublik Enemy 3-1 in what was an entertaining match up as always.

While Bublik will be frustrated to have lost another UTS match–the wildcard has failed to make the Final Four in two attempts already this year–he can take consolation from the fact that both the Los Angeles and Frankfurt winners lost their opening matches this season.

Round robin – Group B –

The Bublik Enemy
Alexander Bublik

The Bublik Enemy

Alexander Bublik

1
12 16 7 13
La Monf
Gaël Monfils

La Monf

Gaël Monfils

3
14 10 16 20

Final Four spots on the line on day two in London

With another six matches coming up on day two of the UTS Grand Final, there’s plenty to play for this Saturday. 

Group B in particular could see some big swings with four of the six matches being played in this group, while the likes of The Iceman and El Peque will be looking to seal their spots in Group A. Here’s how the day will unfold tomorrow:

Saturday 16 December – day session

  • 4pm–Holger “The Viking” Rune v Alexander “The Bublik Enemy” Bublik
  • 5pm–Jack “The Power” Draper v Gael “La Monf” Monfils
  • 6pm–Casper “The Iceman” Ruud v Diego “El Peque” Schwartzman

Saturday 16 December – evening session

  • 8pm–Andrey “Rublo” Rublev v Benoit “The Rebel” Paire
  • 9pm–Holger “The Viking” Rune v Gael “La Monf” Monfils
  • 10pm–Jack “The Power” Draper v Alexander “The Bublik Enemy” Bublik

Sunday 17 December will then see the Final Four take place, where the winner of Group A will play the runner up of Group B and vice versa, determining who contests the final of the UTS Grand Final on Sunday evening.