After spending one hour, 24 minutes on court against Italy’s Gianluca Mager in the opening round, the last year’s Australian Open quarterfinalist needed just one hour, 47 minutes to ease past his Lithuanian opponent in Kia Arena.
Breaks in the opening game of each set gave the fifth seed an easy afternoon, and a dominant serving performance powered home those advantages.
The 24-year-old had spoken of feeling “double pressure” following a COVID-induced layoff to start the year, but has settled in nicely with six dominant sets to kick-start his new year.
On Thursday, Rublev’s power on serve and return wore down the world No. 93 and ultimately paved the way for a third-set knockout.
Rublev will now turn his attention to his third-round opponent, 27th seed Marin Cilic of Croatia, who defeated Slovakian qualifier Norbert Gombos 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(6).
A four-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, including a year ago in Melbourne, Rublev is chasing his first career Slam semifinal this fortnight.
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