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Rublev overcomes fever and praises doctors after winning Madrid Open for the first time

MADRID (AP) — Despite sleepless nights with fever, Andrei Rublev found a way to fight back and win the Madrid Open for the first time.

Rublev felt ill all week but rallied on Sunday to beat Felix Auger-Aliassime in three sets and capture his second Masters 1000 title.

Rublev won 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 after Auger-Aliassime made a double fault on the last point of the final at the clay-court tournament in the Spanish capital.

“I would say this is the proudest title of my career,” Rublev said. “Every day I was almost dead. I didn’t sleep at night. I haven’t slept for the past three or four days.”

Rublev gave “full credit to the doctors,” who “did some tricky things” to make sure he could play.

“I have no words,” said the eighth-ranked Rublev. “If you knew what I’ve been through the last nine days, you wouldn’t think I could win a title.”

The 26-year-old Russian won his first Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo last year. Auger-Aliassime played his first final at this level.

Rublev entered Madrid on a four-match losing streak after early exits at Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Barcelona. One of his victories in Madrid came in the quarter-finals against the home crowd’s favorite Carlos Alcaraz.

He now has 16 titles in his career, and two this season, after Hong Kong in January. He had arrived with a 5-1 record against Auger-Aliassime, including a victory in their only match on clay.

On Auger-Aliassime’s path to the final, Jannik Sinner withdrew in second place due to injury prior to the quarterfinals, and Jiri Lehecka retired against the Canadian in the first set of the semifinals.

Other injuries affected the men’s tournament in Madrid, starting with the withdrawal of Novak Djokovic before the tournament. Daniil Medvedev retired in the quarter-finals, while Alcaraz was hampered by a sore right arm and Rafael Nadal withdrew from what was likely his last appearance in his home country.

Iga Swiatek won the women’s title Saturday for the first time in her career.


AP tennis: