Frustrated Rublev crashes out of French Open

Russia’s Andrey Rublev reacts as he plays against Italia’s Matteo Arnaldi during their men’s singles match on Court Suzanne-Lenglen on day six of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex in Paris on May 31, 2024. (Photograph: Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

Russian sixth seed Andrey Rublev admitted he “lost it completely” as he suffered meltdown in a surprise third round exit from the French Open at the hands of Italian Matteo Arnaldi on Friday.

Rublev, a 10-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist, slipped to a 7-6 (8/6), 6-2, 6-4 defeat against world number 35 Arnaldi on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Rublev, who won the Madrid Open title last month, missed a set point in the opening tie-break before becoming increasingly agitated.

He repeatedly threw his racquet to the ground during the match and then hit himself in the knee with it in the third set.

“Completely disappointed with myself — the way I behaved, the way I performed, and I don’t remember behaving worse on a Slam ever,” Rublev said. “I think it was first time I ever behaved that bad.”

He was broken in the first game of the second set, broke back immediately but then fell to pieces as Arnaldi grew in confidence.

“I was able to break back, and it looks like I started to have a bit more chances,” Rublev added.

“Then out of nowhere, again, I collapse with myself, I get emotional, I lost my serve, and then I lose it completely and basically I almost tank the second set, and then it was too late, because then he started to play unbelievable.”

Rublev never regained his composure and Arnaldi closed out the match with a love service hold.

It is the second straight year Rublev has lost in the third round to an Italian on the same court, after blowing a two-set lead against Lorenzo Sonego 12 months ago.

The 26-year-old has endured an up-and-down season, reaching the Australian Open quarter-finals before stopping a run of four successive defeats by emerging victorious in Madrid.

“I was struggling, and then I had a really good result in Madrid,” he said.

“Now I’m playing well again. I feel that I have a good game, I’m improving. The problem is the head, that today basically I kill myself, and that’s it.”

Arnaldi will face either former runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas or China’s Zhang Zhizhen in the last 16.

“It’s incredible, I think I played the best tennis in my life,” said Arnaldi. “I wasn’t even expecting it.

“He (Rublev) didn’t play his best tennis for sure, but I used my best tactics to put him under pressure.”

The 23-year-old has matched his previous best run at a Slam event, when he reached the US Open fourth round last year before losing to Carlos Alcaraz.