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Watch: Andrey Rublev boils over after shock French Open defeat by continuously smashing racket

Andrey Rublev during his French Open defeat to Italy's Matteo Arnaldi
Andrey Rublev has a reputation as one of the sport's most combustible characters - AP/Jean-Francois Badias

Russian star Andrey Rublev lamented his own self-destructive behaviour after he suffered a spectacular meltdown and became the first high-ranking seed to exit the men’s draw.

Already notorious as one of tennis’s leading hotheads, Rublev reached boiling point with remarkable speed after wasting early chances against Matteo Arnaldi of Italy.

He disputed a call with the chair umpire, bounced his racket repeatedly off the clay, and kicked the courtside bench with such force that he left a sizeable dent.

He also admitted that his mental disintegration had reached such a stage that he had “tanked” (tennis slang for not trying) the second set in his 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 defeat.

Rublev’s defeat ended what had been an unprecedented winning streak for the big-name men in Paris. This was the first time that the top 15 seeds had all reached the third round of the French Open.

As the sixth seed, Rublev’s exit was unexpected, although it should be said that the gifted Arnaldi was only two rankings spots short of inclusion among the 32 seeded players himself.

“Completely disappointed with myself the way I behaved, the way I performed,” said a dejected Rublev after the match, “and I don’t remember behaving worse in a slam ever. The problem is the head, that today basically I kill myself.

“The way I behave, I put myself completely down, and I give Matteo wings to fly, and he was flying third set unbelievable. It was too late to do something.

“I had a lot of opportunities, a lot of chances [but] I did a really few stupid mistakes, so basically I bring him back to the game. Second set, I start completely already on emotions.

“Somehow I was able to break back, and looks like I start to have a bit more chances. Then out of nowhere, again, I collapse with myself, I get emotional, I lost my serve, and then I lose it completely and basically I tank the second set, then it was too late, because then he start to play unbelievable.

“When you’re doing those things, normally it’s tough to come back.”

Andrey Rublev during his French Open defeat to Italy's Matteo Arnaldi
Rublev struggled to keep his emotions in check as he slipped to defeat - Reuters/Yves Herman

Rublev was controversially disqualified from the Dubai Championships in early March after losing his temper and screaming in the face of a line judge. He later mounted a successful appeal against the decision, with the result that the prize money and rankings points he had previously earned at that event were restored to him.

The incident seemed to disconcert him, however, because he soon went on a run of four straight defeats - his worst streak on the regular ATP Tour for more than six years. Even though he bounced back strongly by winning the Madrid Open four weeks ago, this latest performance felt like a relapse.

Rublev’s tantrums usually involve beating himself up physically as well as mentally. He has often rapped his racket strings on his own knuckles so hard that blood is drawn. Here, at one stage in the third set, he did the same thing to his knee.

The curious thing is that Rublev is among the gentlest of men off the court. A former boy-band member in his native Russia, he has admitted that he has a “depressive” nature, and describes himself as a highly emotional character.

“I take everything very personal when it’s something important to me,” he said last year, “and tennis is obviously everything to me.”

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