The 23-year-old converted five of 13 break point chances to overcome Fabio Fognini, the Italian 26th seed, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in just under three hours. Should Daniil Medvedev beat 2017 finalist Marin Cilic on Saturday, it will be the first time in the Open Era (since 1968) that three Russian have advanced to the Last 16 at the All England Club.
In a battle of who could gain early control, Rublev saved four break points across two service games — and Fognini five break points at 2-3 in the first set — before the Russian sealed a 5-3 advantage. Fognini, relying too much on his second serve, buckled and Rublev went on to seal the 43-minute opener.
Rublev carried the momentum into the second set by taking a 4-2 lead, but Fognini recovered to win three straight games. The Italian, competing in the Wimbledon third round for the sixth time, missed out on a set point at 5-4, when Rublev served at 30/40, hooking a backhand wide. But later, Fognini clinched the set after three straight groundstroke winners.
Rublev then put his foot down in the third set, breaking in the fifth game, and from 0-1 in the fourth set, the Russian won the next five games and secured his 36th match win of the year with his 13th ace. Fognini, 34, is now 17-15 on the season.
Three Russian men have reached the four round of a major championship on two previous occasions since 1968 — at the 2007 Australian Open (Igor Andreev, Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youzhny) and at this year’s Australian Open (Medvedev, Rublev and Aslan Karatsev).