Stefanos Tsitsipas successfully defended his Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters title on Sunday, beating Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 7-6 (3) to claim his second ATP Masters 1000 crown.
“I’m very proud of myself,” Tsitsipas said in his interview on the pitch. “Things didn’t go well at one point but I managed to keep my composure to finish the match. I’m really proud of the belief I put into my game. Sometimes you doubt yourself, but it’s always important to keep your head up.”
The Greek, at the level in his fourth final, hit his forehand with fierce topspin and accuracy, recovering from failing to finish the match 5-4 in the second set to lift his first trophy of the season.
“He fought in moments I didn’t expect him to fight,” Tsitsipas said. “He can hit incredible winners out of thin air and play unpredictably. But I was able to minimize that. I knew he would be a dangerous opponent but this is a great win for me. I think we will see great results from him in the future.”
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With his win in an hour and 34 minutes, Tsitsipas is alongside Rafael Nadal (2005-12, 2016-18), Juan Carlos Ferrero (2002-03), Thomas Muster (1995-96), Bjorn Borg (1979-1980) and Ilie Nastase (1971-1973).
In a stellar week, the third seed displayed consistent and aggressive tennis to claim their first title since triumphing in Lyon last May. Tsitsipas defeated 2019 champions Fabio Fognini, Laslo Djere and second-placed Alexander Zverev in straight sets but survived a major scare against Diego Schwartzman in the quarters, recovering from 4-0 in the decider to progress.
The 23-year-old, who defeated Andrey Rublev in the championship match in Monte Carlo last season, will move up to second place in the ATP Race To Turin on Monday. The Greek has now won eight tour-level trophies, including four on clay.
Getting off to a quick start, Davidovich Fokina showed little sign of nervousness on Court Rainier III as he started better and quickly found his reach on his forehand from the baseline to earn an early break. However, Tsitsipas reacted quickly as he hit from greater depth and fired a forehand past the Spaniard to break back to 2-2.
The Greek continued to force his heavy-hitting game on Davidovich Fokina, dragging the 22-year-old from corner to corner as he won four of the next five games to take the lead after 31 minutes.
Fueled by momentum, Tsitsipas took control early in the second set as he overpowered Davidovich Fokina with his ball swing. The 23-year-old went 2-0 up with a break but Davidovich Fokina showed courage as he clinched breakout results this week. Pumped up and in the zone, the Spaniard started hitting the ball with greater width, going back to 4-4.
Tsitsipas broke again when he got a little lucky at 4-4 at the break point when his mis-hit forehand arrived before winning the point with a topspin forehand the Spaniard couldn’t return. However, the Greek failed to complete the match as Davidovich Fokina raised his level to force a tiebreak. Tsitsipas would not be denied a second Masters 1000 crown, however, as he played more consistently in the tie-break as he forced mistakes from Davidovich Fokina with his distance to triumph.
Tsitsipas improved to 3-0 in his ATP Head2Head series with Davidovich Fokina. He also eliminated world No. 46 in Monte Carlo last year when the Spaniard was forced to retire after losing the first set 5-7 in the quarters.
Davidovich Fokina competed in his first ATP Tour finals after beating Marcos Giron, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, David Goffin, Indian Wells titlist Taylor Fritz and 2018 semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov .
The 22-year-old was aiming to become the first unseeded winner at Monte Carlo Country Club since Muster in 1992 and also the first player since qualifier Albert Portas in Hamburg in 2001 to win his first tour-level title at a Masters 1000 event fetched .
Despite the defeat, Davidovich Fokina is expected to rise to 27th place in the ATP rankings after his dream run in the principality. He arrived in Monte Carlo and held just a 4-9 record that season after losing all three of his previous tour-level semifinals.