Andrey Rublev has made ATP history – without even stepping onto the court.
The Russian, who won his fourth successive ATP 500 title in Rotterdam last week, has reached the semi-finals of the Qatar Open without playing a single point.
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Seeded third for the tournament behind Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem, Rublev was handed a bye for the first round. He was then scheduled to face Richard Gasquet in the second round, but he pulled out with a leg injury following his win over Blaz Rola.
Rublev’s quarter-final opponent was due to be Marton Fucsovics, who lost to the Russian in the final of the Rotterdam Open.
However, Fucsovics was also forced to withdraw with a back problem after notching up two wins.
It is the first time in ATP Tour history (since 1990) that a player has received back-to-back walkovers at a tournament.
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Rublev is now due to play his first match on Friday when he faces either top seed Thiem or fifth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the semi-finals.
He has at least been getting some court time in the doubles, where he has teamed up with fellow Russian Aslan Karatsev. The pair beat fourth seeds Marcelo Melo and Jean-Julien Rojer to reach the semi-finals, which are being played on Thursday.
Gasquet was full of praise for Rublev before they were set to meet, saying he thinks he will win a Grand Slam in the near future.
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The 23-year-old has won eight singles titles, five of them in 2020, and is ranked No 8 in the world. He also made the quarter-finals of the last three majors.
“He is one of the best players in the world,” said Gasquet. “He can win a Grand Slam very soon. He won many tournaments. So it’s been great of course.”
Rublev also wrote his name into the history books in 2017 when he won his first career title at the Croatia Open and became only the seventh ‘lucky loser’ to win an ATP title.
A lucky loser is a player who loses in qualifying or doesn’t get into the main draw, but then gains entry after another player withdraws from the tournament, usually due to injury.
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