It’s been more than a year since Russia invaded Ukraine, and Andrey Rublev is still struggling to deal with the war while on the court.
Now ahead of the all-Russian final at the Dubai Tennis Championship, where he’ll take on Daniil Medvedev on Saturday, Rublev is calling for peace.
"You cannot act like nothing is happening," Rublev said Friday. "It's horrible. It's crazy that so many just normal citizens are suffering and dying. It’s just not easy.”
No. 6 Rublev beat No. 16 Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-6 in the semifinals on Thursday, which earned him a spot in the finals on Saturday in Dubai. It marked his first win over Zverev in six meetings.
After that win, Rublev walked over to the camera and wrote “Tsoi is alive” on the lens. The message, he said, honored former Russian musician Viktor Tsoi.
"He was one artist from a past generation that had huge volume I think on USSR, because his voice was really powerful," Rublev said. "That was not an easy time. At that point I did not exist, but that was not an easy time, but his voice was really powerful. The lyrics that he was writing was giving a lot of hope to the people at that time. I just wrote it because I feel that now, at this time, is happening similar things."
The move was similar to one he did at the Dubai Open last year, when he wrote “No war please” on a camera after reaching the finals.
Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev writes "No war please" on the camera following his advancement to the final in Dubai. pic.twitter.com/GQe8d01rTd
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) February 25, 2022
Rublev and Medvedev, as well as others from Russia and Belarus, aren’t allowed to compete under the Russian flag as a result of the war, which Russia started more than a year ago. They were banned from several events as a result of Russia’s invasion, too, including Wimbledon — a decision that drew plenty of criticism.
Medvedev reached the finals after beating top-ranked Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 in his semifinals match. Rublev has beaten Medvedev the last two times they’ve squared off, but Medvedev holds the 4-2 all-time series record.
Though the focus will be on their match come Saturday, Rublev knows it will be impossible to completely forget about what’s happening just a few thousand miles north.
“It’s tough to understand,” Rublev said. “Of course it’s affecting [me]. It doesn’t matter how you try to do other stuff. The only thing I hope is that soon there will be peace in every country."