Stefanos Tsitsipas once again demonstrated his clay-court prowess as he successfully defended the Monte-Carlo Masters title with a straight sets victory over Alejandro Davidovich.
The Greek No.3 seed claimed a 6-3 7-6(3) win in one hour and 36 minutes to deny the world No.46 Davidovich the chance to become the lowest-ranked ATP Masters 1000 champion since Tomas Berdych in 2005.
It is the eighth tour-level title of Tsitsipas’ career and his fourth on clay as the 2021 French Open finalist underlined just why he is regarded as one of the main contenders for the Roland Garros crown this year.
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Reflecting on a victory that sees him join elite company as just the sixth player to win back-to-back Monte-Carlo Masters titles in the Open era, Tsitsipas said:
“It’s remarkable. I’m very proud of myself. Things didn’t seem to be going well at some points but I managed to stay composed and kept believing that I can finish it off. I’m proud of the belief in my game. Sometimes you doubt yourself but it’s always important to keep your head up and do the job best you can.
“He was a difficult opponent. He fought in moments I didn’t expect him to fight. He’s someone who can hit incredible winners out of nowhere and can be unpredictable. I was able to minimise that as much as I could today. I knew he was a dangerous opponent, I’ve played him before and I’m proud that I’ve got a great win against him here. I’m very sure we are going to see good results from him in the future. He's someone who can compete with the top guys."
Speaking during the presentation ceremony, Tsitsipas added: "This has been an incredible event. I had the chance to win it last year – of course without a crowd – so I can say...
I don’t think I’ve never experienced a more special event in my career so far. It holds a special place in my heart.
"This is the first event I ever attended as a six-year-old kid. Not in a million years would I have thought I’d be in the position I am today, it is remarkable. I’d like to thank my team for helping me work towards my dreams – our dreams - together.”
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The 23-year-old Tsitsipas was the heavy favourite coming into the contest but it was Davidovich who made the brighter start.
Indeed, there were no sign of nerves from the 22-year-old unseeded Spaniard, who produced a bewitching crosscourt dropshot to steal an early break for a 2-1 lead. However, he followed up with a sloppy service game that allowed Tsitsipas to break straight back to love with a quite sublime forehand pass on the run.
It would prove to be significant for the defending champion as he began to settle into a more comfortable rhythm that saw him start to hold with relative ease. The Greek world No.5's backhand was standing up well on the defence while his forehand was able to do damage with depth and accuracy. It paved the way for a crucial break in the eighth game that allowed him to serve out a 31-minute opener to love.
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The No.3 seed maintained his momentum in the second set as he quickly raced into a 2-0 lead. At this juncture, Davidovich looked flat and a shadow of the player who had accounted for three Masters 1000 champions in the shape of Novak Djokovic, Taylor Fritz and Grigor Dimitrov en route to the final.
There was an evident danger that his first ATP Tour final could come to an underwhelming conclusion, but the Spaniard dug deep to find the form that had helped him make such big headlines at what he hopes will be a breakthrough event, and reel off three games in a row.
Tsitsipas was suddenly on the back foot but once again showed good focus during some difficult moments before seizing another break to lead 5-4. The Greek saw two break points swatted away by Davidovich but made it count on a third with a brutal crosscourt forehand once again doing the damage.
It looked all set for the world No.5 to serve it out but he wobbled under pressure from his fired-up opponent, who channelled all of the energy of the ‘Foki, Foki, Foki’ chants from the crowd to somehow break right back.
Tsitsipas recovered from the blow to force a tie break where he raised his level to prevail 7-3 and become just the eighth active player to clinch multiple ATP Masters 1000 titles in his career and the first back-to-back Monte Carlo champion since Rafael Nadal won three in a row from 2016-18.
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