Andrey Rublev extended his perfect record in 2020 to 10 matches on Wednesday evening with a place in the third round at the Australian Open.

The Russian was solid on serve and at the net — winning 38 of his 42 first-service points (90%) and 8/10 net points respectively — in a 6-2, 6-3, 7-6(5) over Yuichi Sugita of Japan in one hour and 53 minutes.

Rublev, who is starting to feel better after a brief illness, admitted, “There is not many secrets basically. I was a little bit lucky. It’s not going to happen often that I’m going to always win. Even a top player will have to lose this week. So we’ll see. For the moment, I don’t know, it happens. But, for sure, I’m going to lose so many more matches, and I’m going to win also.”

Rublev, the No. 17 seed, who also reached the 2018 third round (l. to Dimitrov), will next look to beat Belgian No. 11 seed David Goffin or Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France on Saturday. He beat Goffin at the 2017 US Open and Herbert in the recent Qatar ExxonMobil Open quarter-finals.

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The 22-year-old Rublev has lost just three sets in 10 matches this season, which includes back-to-back ATP Tour titles in the first two weeks at Doha (d. Moutet) and the Adelaide International (d. Harris).

Slovakian Dominik Hrbaty was the last man to capture two trophies in as many weeks to open a season in 2004. Former World No. 12 Hrbaty won his first 11 matches that year, including title runs in Adelaide (d. Llodra) and the ASB Classic in Auckland (d. Nadal), before falling to Sebastien Grosjean in the 2004 Australian Open third round.

Rublev, who overcame back and wrist injuries in 2019, said, “The back one was really tough. Even when I already start to play, I was feeling that I was still not there. Mentally, I was somewhere else. I was not on the court, not on the practises, I was somewhere else. Even when I came back after the back injury, it took me four, five months to start again to feel I’m here, I’m playing tennis again. I started telling to myself, ‘Try to enjoy, you’re back on court.’

“Then, when the wrist injury happened, at the beginning it was even worse. But then, finally, when I play my first tournament, and actually I lost my first match, it was in Halle, I was 7-6 in the third [against Mats Moraing]. Inside I was feeling that even though I lost, I was a little bit happy that finally I’m here, I’m playing, I’m enjoying it. From that time, I started to play better and better every week.”

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