Before 2021, Fabio Fognini dominated his ATP Head2Head rivalry with Andrey Rublev. But the Russian has flipped the script this year, and on Wednesday won his third consecutive match against the Italian.

Rublev clawed past Fognini 7-6(4), 6-3 behind 13 aces to reach the third round at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers after one hour and 32 minutes.

“It’s always super tough against Fabio. He’s super talented and you know how great he can play,” Rublev said in his on-court interview. “He’s beaten so many great players, so I knew it was going to be really tough, especially it was my first match and he already played the first round, so he was feeling a bit more comfortable than me.”

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There was not much between the two standout baseliners at Aviva Centre. But in key moments, Rublev was able to take the first big swing in rallies and Fognini was forced to play from more uncomfortable positions rather than attacking himself.

Rublev hit 26 winners compared to 12 for Fognini to claim his first victory in Toronto. This was just his second main draw match at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers.

“I was a bit tight, but this is normal,” Rublev said. “Then little by little during the match I started to play better and better, started to find confidence, and in the end I’m happy that I won in straight sets.”

It will not get easier for the fourth seed, who will next play recent Atlanta champion John Isner. The big-serving American claimed his first win against Chilean Cristian Garin 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 after two hours and 13 minutes.

Isner has won his two previous clashes against Rublev, including a final-set tie-break victory against the Russian earlier this year in Madrid. The 36-year-old has won seven consecutive matches and will try to reach his second quarter-final in Toronto after making the semi-finals in 2012.

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