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January 8, 2020

Andrey Rublev

Doha, Qatar

A. RUBLEV/M. Kukushkin

6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Well-played. 6-4, 6-2. How do you look back on this match today?
ANDREY RUBLEV: I mean, I expect it's going to be really, really tough match because I know Mikhail since a long time. And especially our last meetings for -- I don't know -- let's say for the last one and a half year, out of four, he beat me three times, quite confident. And the last time I remember that I won was really, really tough in Cincinnati.

So I expect it's going to be, again, really tough match for me, that it will take a lot of -- I don't know -- things for me to beat him. And I'm really happy that I could win in straight sets today.

But anyway, I think it was -- today was more mental match. Both of us was not really feeling the ball as normally we can feel, so it was more about mental.

Q. When you say you're not feeling the ball, is it nerves?
ANDREY RUBLEV: Yeah, I mean, me, especially, today it was first match of the season, first match since two months. And, of course, I was a little bit nervous. And my team feel it since the beginning and I feel it also since the beginning. And, yeah, it was more stress nervous.

But in the end, I'm happy that I was focused more on -- that I accept this and I focused more on the things that how I can win with the game that I have today.

And I'm happy with my performance.

Q. Most players say that the first match is a very important match. Do you feel the same way?
ANDREY RUBLEV: Yeah because, I mean, even when you finish the season well and you don't play for a while, you lose little bit rhythm of playing.

And it's when you after -- I don't know -- one and a half months or after two months you play the first match, it's always even if you feel the ball well and everything it's always feel a bit tough.

Because if you win the first match, you feel like you're back in the rhythm and that's why I think it's important. And if you lose, you feel again it's something, again, I'm not in the rhythm; I need to win match to feel this feeling, to bring the confidence back. And that's why I think it's important, the beginning of the season.

Q. Do you feel now you're a little more confident and do you expect the field to be a little bit tougher? Do you expect tougher matches and do you feel confident now because you have a good win behind you?
ANDREY RUBLEV: I would say I feel more confident about my level. That I improve -- for the last half year, I improve. I raised my level, which I'm confident and I'm really happy with that.

But anyway, every match is tough. Every match you don't know how you feel because you cannot play amazing every day. It will be for sure some days, even if you're confident, some days will be that you're not feeling the ball well. So this is normal.

And then you have to be confident mentally and strong mentally, and this is the main part I would like to improve and I would like to learn, and we'll see.

But anyway, all the rest matches is going to be really tough. Even today, I mean, in the end was better than I expect, but normally against Mikhail always really tough to play.

And now it's going to be from quarterfinals, it's not going to be easy matches.

Q. You've had some good results here in Doha in the past. Can you tell us a bit about the conditions on the court?
ANDREY RUBLEV: Actually, to be honest, I feel every year a little bit different. The first year I remember when I did final here, I feel quite slow here. And now I feel, I think, the fastest year that I play here. I feel this year the surface is a little bit more faster than usual.

But anyway, I like always to be here. I like the atmosphere here, I like the conditions, and I always enjoying to be here back and to compete here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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