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February 13, 2021

Andrey Rublev

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

A. RUBLEV/F. Lopez

7-5, 6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Can you talk us through that win over Lopez today, please.

ANDREY RUBLEV: I mean, like I said before, I know Feliciano for a long time. We are really great friends, and the first set was really nervous, was really close for both of us, was 50/50. I had a couple of chances, then he had a couple of chances, and then I managed to win the first set, and I think he was beat down mentally, and me, I start to be more relaxed, and then that was the key.

Q. Where did you know him from originally, from when you'd go to Spain for training or what?

ANDREY RUBLEV: Yes, because I mean, my coaches are really great friends with him, and then when I was in Spain, we were practicing. Then when I see him on tournaments we were having all together -- first of all, he was coming to see my coaches because they are all of them friends. Then we were in one group having lunch or something like that, and little by little he started to know me as well. And then I would have also great relationship and we are great friends.

Q. How much tougher does it make it to play somebody like that?

ANDREY RUBLEV: I mean, I'm not even thinking about it because in the end it's part of our sport. We cannot choose the opponents. Some days we're going to play best friends, some days we're going to play just friends. I have good relationship with all the tour, so I cannot -- I mean, it's part of our sport to play each other, so it's normal. But today we have to face each other, and then we are going somewhere dinner or lunch together. It doesn't -- it makes no change in my opinion if I have to play my friend tomorrow, it's like we're not talking or something like that. Still, he is my friend.

Q. Who would be the worst player you'd want to come across as a friend?

ANDREY RUBLEV: No one. I never think this way. It's like I say, the draw -- I see the draw, I have to play my friend, I will go and play because we cannot control this. If I cannot control the things, I don't want to think about them. I try to be more simple.

If it was in my power to choose the opponents, then yes, I would think who I would like, to don't face the friends, but if I cannot control it, I don't want to lose time to think about it.

Q. What about playing Casper Ruud next?

ANDREY RUBLEV: It's also going to be tough match, and I also have great relationship with Casper. I played him twice, twice in Hamburg. First time he was set and break up, and somehow I won that match. Last time was really tough match, high intensity, high level, but I managed to win in straight sets.

I mean, it's going to be tough. It's going to be physical match because he have really great physical power. He can run a lot. He's using forehand really hard. And then it's going to be really tough match. But all of the matches in fourth round is going to be really tough, so I'm not going to say something new.

Q. Do you look ahead in the draw or not?

ANDREY RUBLEV: No. I mean, I know that I'm facing -- in case if I win I'm facing Daniil, but I know this since the beginning because everybody said that we were in one part. But I didn't know that I'm playing Casper until I beat Feli and now I have Casper and I want to focus to have a great match against him.

Q. Can you just tell me a little bit about Casper as a person? What stands out, not as a tennis player, just from your relationship with him off the court?

ANDREY RUBLEV: I mean, we don't really talk that much or having some time together, but he's a really nice guy. He's really humble, not really -- yeah, really humble. That's all I can say. Nice guy, humble, respects people around him. He gives, I think, respect. People around him, giving them really nice treatment. I don't know what else to say.

Q. You know everyone always talks about how hard you hit the ball; I'm just sort of curious, was that always the case from when you were a little kid, and if so, how did that sort of start?

ANDREY RUBLEV: Yeah, when I was a kid -- I mean, I was watching a lot Rafa, I was watching Marat, and somehow when I was a kid I was trying to hit forehand, so since I was a child. Of course there was some matches that I was playing a lob until there is no tomorrow. But yeah, when I was feeling great and the match was more or less under control, I was trying to go around and trying to hit forehand, and then it was always with me.

Q. We've heard about a couple players saying about the Australian Open the court is super fast. I would like your opinion about that and if that helps your game somehow.

ANDREY RUBLEV: Yes, it's true. I would say the same, that the court -- I mean, as far as I know, the courts are more or less the same, the balls are different, and that's why it's faster. In my case, I like slower courts, slower everything, but it is what it is. And we cannot control this, so we have to accept.

Q. We talk about you and Karen and Daniil but there's another Russian man you know very well this week, Aslan. How much have you watched of him? He's hitting winner after winner after winner. What have you made of him this week?

ANDREY RUBLEV: I saw the third set, him with Schwartzman, and I mean, he started to play really -- he was always talented, actually. He always had a really nice touch because I remember -- he is much older than me, so when I was growing he was already -- in Russia he was always one of the best ones, and I remember he always had the -- he was talented and having nice touch. But then somehow things was not working, and then in the end of last year he won a couple of Challengers in a row beating really great guys, and in St. Petersburg he beat Sandgren, I was watching the match, and then he had a really tough match against Karen, and already since that time I knew that if he was going to keep going, for sure he will do better results and better results. In the end, almost from the first week, already now he become hungry. He beat a top-10 player. It's amazing. So we'll see what's going to happen next.

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