It's never easy to play against a good friend and the two Russians know something about that. They met already four times on the ATP Tour and two of those matches were at ATP 1000 events, with the other two played on grass in Halle.
The first two matches were won by Khachanov and the other two were victorious for Rublev as one of them looked to go ahead in the H2H again in their round of 16 clash at the 2023 Madrid Open. One of the meetings happened this year, with Rublev winning in Monte Carlo and for Khachanov it also wasn't a first match against a good friend as he had to play Daniil Medvedev too in 2023.
But there are no friends on the tennis court and the two showed it as they battled it out at the Manolo Santana Stadium. None of the players could go ahead in the first set, with no break points on offer in the first twelve games and so a tie-break had to be played.
Rublev was the first player to go into a significant lead as he was up 6-4 and had two chances to win the set. But Khachanov was able to hang in it and the next three set points were his. And even though he couldn't use the first two chance, he used the third one to win the tie-break 10-8 and take the first set.
There weren't many break points on offer in the second set either, but there was one crucial moment. After saving three break points in the first game, Rublev faced one more in the third, and he missed under pressure.
The Russian had a forehand volley to play into an open court, but he sent it wide and showed his frustration as he knew the moment could decide the match. And although Rublev had one, and his only, chance to break back, he didn't use it as Khachanov won 7-6(8), 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the 2023 Madrid Open.
Up next, the Russian will need to prepare for a match against one of the last year's finalists as Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev will battle it out for the spot in the quarterfinals.