Former British No.1 Greg Rusedski believes Stefanos Tsitsipas’ victory at the Monte-Carlo Masters puts him amongst an elite group of four players capable of winning the 2022 French Open.
The Greek world No.5 saw off unseeded Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in straight sets to secure his first title since Lyon last year.
Tsitsipas has now won a total of four titles on clay – including back-to-back triumphs in the Principality – and Rusedski feels it puts the 2021 Roland Garros runner-up in a strong position to go one better in Paris this year.
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“What a performance to win back-to-back titles,” he said on Amazon Prime. “We saw the list of six champions to do that. All of the other names were No.1s and Roland Garros champions.
This puts Tsitsipas in a great position to have another run at the French Open. It puts him in the list with four guys you’d think have a real shot to win it, with Rafa (Nadal), Novak (Djokovic) and (Carlos) Alcaraz.
“It’s exciting times for men’s tennis. You also have to give a lot of credit to Davidovich Fokina. He’s had a fantastic week.
"There’s nothing to be ashamed about in his first final. He beat Djokovic and (Taylor) Fritz as well. I’m sure he’ll be back in a final again – maybe not at Masters level – but in the 250s and 500s.”
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Rusedski’s claim that Nadal and Djokovic will be in the running for another major title won’t raise many eyebrows despite doubts over their respective fitness and match sharpness.
Teen sensation Alcaraz won the ATP 500 in Rio back in February but his preparations for the second Grand Slam of the season suffered a surprise setback when he lost to Sebastian Korda in the round of 32 in Monte Carlo.
“He’s just that good. He’s a phenom,” explained Rusedski when asked why he was already considered a threat alongside such legendary company. “He is ridiculously good. He won Miami (Masters) and only lost this week to an inspired Korda where he still had his chances. I’m putting him in the conversation (for the Roland Garros title) because he is special.”
Rusedski’s words were echoed by former world No.5 Daniela Hantuchova who thinks Tsitsipas should be seen as the current favourite to reign supreme on the Paris dirt come June.
“I think Stefanos is leading that list,” she said. “He’s got momentum going into the rest of the clay tournaments. He’s the favourite for me going into Madrid and Rome. He was very close against Novak in Rome and Paris last year.
"Carlos is also right there. We all believe he’s that good. He’ll be hungry to build momentum himself.”
Defending Roland Garros champion, Djokovic looked way off top form during his round two loss to Davidovich Fokina earlier in the week in Monte Carlo in what was just his fourth match of 2022.
Rusedski is not overly concerned about the world No.1’s surprise exit and is confident he can bounce back at the Serbia Open next week.
“It doesn’t matter how he wins,” he added. “He just needs to win matches even if it’s ugly. You don’t lose class. You miss match sharpness but winning becomes a habit. He needs to get back on the train again. Whether that’s next week or the week after, but he’ll be ready to defend his (French Open) title.”
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