Rublev edges five-set thriller at Australian Open

MELBOURNE: Andrey Rublev said admitting to himself that opponent Thiago Seyboth Wild deserved to beat him helped free his mind and battle back from the brink to reach the Australian Open second round on Sunday.

The Russian fifth seed survived an almighty scare to overcome the Brazilian 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (10-6).

He appeared to be cantering through after taking the first two sets of a heavy-hitting encounter on Margaret Court Arena.

But Seyboth Wild refused to lie down and breaks in the third and fourth sets set up a tantalising decider against the two-time quarter-finalist.

As the match reached a dramatic conclusion, Rublev failed to convert four match points on Seyboth Wild's serve at 5-6 in the fifth set.

But he regained his composure in the decisive tie-break, rallying from 2-5 to triumph on his fifth match point after three hours and 42 minutes.

The Russian, 26, collapsed to the ground before letting out a guttural roar.

Rublev said the key to the turnaround was accepting in the tie-break that Seyboth Wild deserved to win following his storming comeback.

"I was, like, OK, he deserves to win," he said. "At least just finish the match without saying anything, and that's it.

"And somehow those words a bit give me relief. As soon as I (said them I) had a chance, because I was lucky that he didn't make a first serve, and he served a couple of times second.

"I returned really well and really clean, and I was able to come back. At the end of the tie-break I think I played well."

Rublev, who won the Hong Kong Open earlier this month, admitted he had asked Daniil Medvedev for advice before the match -- his compatriot lost to Seyboth Wild at the French Open last year.

He said his focus had drifted after his fine start against his 23-year-old opponent, ranked a lowly 78th in the world.

"I did problems to myself, by myself," he said. "Instead of (keeping the) same focus like I was first two sets and just feel more free and to try to play better and better, I kind of relaxed.

"I started to feel, 'OK, I want to finish the match faster. I want to break right now, and I don't know.' The relaxation almost cost me the match because he started later to play unbelievable."

Rublev will meet Japan's Taro Daniel or American Christopher Eubanks in the next round. - AFP

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