Final Preview: Tsitsipas To Face Rublev For Maiden Masters 1000 Glory

For the second straight ATP Masters 1000 event, a new champion will be lifting his first trophy at this level as Stefanos Tsitsipas takes on Andrey Rublev for the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters title.

There will be more than just Monte-Carlo glory on the line for Tsitsipas and Rublev. The winner lead the FedEx Race To Turin leaderboard for a place at the Nitto ATP Finals on Monday. Rublev has already overtaken current leader Novak Djokovic with his performance this week, though Tsitsipas could still rise to the top spot with a victory in the clay-court final. 

After letting a big chance slip away at the Miami Open presented by Itau, the first ATP Masters 1000 event without Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in 17 years, both players arrived in the Principality eager for redemption. Tsitsipas and Rublev made strong showings in Miami, but were beaten by eventual champion Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, respectively.

Sixth seed Rublev revealed that the key to bouncing back and reaching his first Masters 1000 final this week has been to keep a tight lid on his emotions – a lesson he learned the hard way in South Florida.

“That's why I lost [in Miami], because of my emotions,” Rublev said after his semi-final victory. “In the end if you want to learn, you will improve this. I hope I want to learn and I want to improve. That's why I'm doing better. Of course, it's not easy. [In] some matches [there] will still be up and downs.”

The Russian claimed his first victory over Nadal (1-2) on the Spaniard’s favourite surface and after weathering a second-set comeback to triumph 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. It felt like a coming-of-age moment for the 23-year-old, who has an ATP Tour-best 24-4 match record in 2021. The tennis world seemed to be waiting for Rublev to find a way to translate his electrifying performances at ATP 500-level to the big stages at Masters 1000 events, and he did so against arguably the toughest opponent possible with a defeat of the 11-time former champion.

But he passed another big test in the next round, staying calm in order to back up the win against unseeded Casper Ruud 6-3, 7-5 and reach the championship match.

“This week looks like I'm really controlling my emotions [very well]. That's why I'm doing well,” Rublev explained. “That's why I won the match with Robert when I was losing. That's why I won the match against Rafa when he came back in [the] second set. Even today [in] the second set, I come back because I didn't go crazy. I just keep focused. I keep staying in the match. It turned around.” 

Rublev will take on two-time Masters 1000 finalist Tsitsipas for the second time in 2021 when they hit Court Rainier III on Sunday. The pair has already met six times in their ATP Head2Head series (3-3), including three matches last year and also at last month’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

The Greek player has been in world-beating form this week in Monte-Carlo, where he also lives and trains. Tsitsipas hasn’t dropped a set all week, grounding Dubai champion Aslan Karatsev in his opening match, and cruising against Cristian Garin and breakout semi-finalist Daniel Evans. He also beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (7-5, ret.) along the way.

“I'm feeling good. I'm feeling energized. I still have plenty of gas and energy left in me,” Tsitsipas said. “I was able to have all of my matches done in two sets, so that is I would say a big plus. I am happy to be able to play that way, just take it match by match, approach each individual match with the same intensity and energy. That has obviously contributed to that, to be able to finish the matches in two sets, not go to three-setters.” 

Five-time ATP Tour titlist Tsitsipas is looking to lift his biggest trophy in Monte-Carlo after his 2019 Nitto ATP Finals triumph at the O2 in London. A victory would also be his first championship at an ATP 500, ATP Masters 1000 or Grand Slam tournament. By contrast, his opponent Rublev has swept 23 matches and four titles in a row at ATP 500 events from 2020-21.

It took a member of the Big Three to stop Tsitsipas in his previous Masters 1000 finals at the 2018 National Bank Open Presented by Rogers in Toronto (l. Nadal) and at the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open (l. Djokovic). Gearing up for his clash with Rublev, a first-time finalist at this level, Tsitsipas assured the press that he is not feeling any added pressure to get the job done.

“It's not so much about that. It's more how much I really want it,” Tsitsipas said. “That doesn't necessarily add pressure to me. It's just pure determination, willingness to go over the top to get what I want. I don't like to think as it of pressure. I wouldn't call it that way.”

[WATCH LIVE 1]

In the first match on Court Rainier III, Evans will hope to complete his dream week in Monte-Carlo with the ultimate prize as he partners with countryman Neal Skupski in the championship doubles clash. The pair have reached back-to-back Masters 1000 finals in Miami and Monte-Carlo, the first two tournaments of their new partnership. The Brits will have a chance to avenge their South Florida defeat on Sunday as they’ve booked a rematch with second seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.

Watch Live | View TV Schedule

SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, APRIL 18, 2021
COURT RAINIER III start 12:00 noon

D. Evans (GBR) / N. Skupski (GBR) vs [2] N. Mektic (CRO) / M. Pavic (CRO)

Not Before 2:30 pm
[4] S. Tsitsipas (GRE) vs [6] A. Rublev (RUS)

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/tsitsipas-rublev-monte-carlo-2021-final-preview

Rublev: 'I'm Really Controlling My Emotions'

Andrey Rublev may have won 65 out of his past 79 matches and won six ATP Tour titles since the start of the 2020 season, but the Russian is still learning to keep his emotions in check.

On Saturday, the 23-year-old admitted that it had cost him a place in his first ATP Masters 1000 final earlier this month at the Miami Open presented by Itau, when he fell to eventual champion Hubert Hurkacz in the semi-finals.

“I lost [in Miami], because of my emotions,” said Rublev, after his 6-3, 7-5 victory over Casper Ruud at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. “In the end, if you want to learn, you will improve this. I want to learn, and I want to improve. That's why I'm doing better.

[WATCH LIVE 1]

This week, at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, the Russian star has learned from his past mistakes and beaten Salvatore Caruso, Roberto Bautista Agut, 11-time former champion Rafael Nadal and Ruud en route to his 11th ATP Tour final (8-2).

“It’s not easy. Some matches [your emotions] will still be up and downs. This week, [it] looks like I'm really controlling my emotions well. That's why I'm doing well. That's why I won the match with Roberto, when I was losing. That's why I won the match against Rafa when he came back in second set. Even today, in the second set, I came back because I didn't go crazy. I just kept focused. I kept in the match. It turned around.”

Rublev will now prepare to face Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final at the Monte-Carlo County Club. The pair has already met six times in their ATP Head2Head series (3-3), including three matches last year and also at last month’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. Tsitsipas will be appearing in his third Masters 1000 final (also 2018 Toronto, 2019 Madrid).

“I'm feeling great and happy to play one more final, especially my first ATP Masters [1000] final,” said Rublev. “It's going to be tough match. We [have] already had many battles with each other last year. Some of them he won, some of them I won. Most of them were super tough three-set matches. I hope we will show great tennis [tomorrow] and people will enjoy [it].”

Rublev will be in first position in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, for one of the eight spots at the Nitto ATP Finals in November, should he lift the biggest title of his career on Sunday. Should Tsitsipas win, the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion, will be in pole position.

“If you want to be a better player [at] the next level, you need to know how to do everything,” said the Muscovite. “If you look at the best players, they do everything. They know how to volley, how to hit, how to defend, how to slice, everything… I’m trying to improve.”

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/rublev-reaction-monte-carlo-2021-saturday

Pressure? Not For Tsitsipas: 'It's How Much I Really Want It'

Stefanos Tsitsipas hopes to keep his emotions in check on Sunday as he bids to capture his first ATP Masters 1000 crown against Andrey Rublev in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final.

Having lost to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, respectively, in his two previous Masters 1000 finals at the 2018 National Bank Open Presented by Rogers in Toronto and the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open, the Greek star insists he isn’t under extra pressure.

“It's not so much about that,” said Tsitsipas. “It's more how much I really want it. That doesn't necessarily add pressure to me. It's just pure determination, willingness to go over the top to get what I want. I don't like to think as it of pressure.”

[WATCH LIVE 1]

Tsitsipas, who lifted the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals trophy, has a 3-3 record in his ATP Head2Head series against Rublev, who has compiled an ATP Tour-best 24-4 match record on the 2021 season. They are tied 1-1 in clay-court clashes.

“I'm feeling good,” said Tsitsipas, who will attempt to secure his sixth ATP Tour crown after beating Daniel Evans 6-2, 6-1 on Saturday. “I'm feeling energised. I still have plenty of gas and energy left in me.

Watch Saturday's Semi-Final Highlights

“I was able to have all of my matches done in two sets, so that is I would say a big plus. I am happy to be able to play that way, just take it match by match, approach each individual match with the same intensity and energy… I'm really focused for tomorrow.

“Obviously, it is important to elevate my game and try and push it to the limits. I really, really want to be in that position where I come close to winning big tournaments like this. It's a dream of mine to be playing in the final, honestly.”

The 22-year-old Tsitsipas will be appearing in his second final of 2021, following a 6-4, 7-6(3) loss to Alexander Zverev at last month’s Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC final in Acapulco. He has a 21-5 match record on the season.

Should he capture the Monte-Carlo crown, Tsitsipas will also move into first spot in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, for one of eight places at the Nitto ATP Finals in November.

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/tsitsipas-reaction-monte-carlo-2021-saturday

Ruud On Monte-Carlo Run: ‘It’s A Nice Confidence Booster’

Casper Ruud entered the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters with a point to prove. After five matches in the Principality, the 22-year-old has done just that and more.

In the week before the ATP Masters 1000 tournament, Ruud was beaten in the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open quarter-finals by 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz. Ruud used his loss to the #NextGenATP Spaniard as a source of motivation in Monte-Carlo. He wanted to take his game to the next level.

“It's a nice confidence booster [to reach the semi-finals],” said Ruud. “Coming into this week, I played pretty well in Marbella, but I lost to a good young player. I got a tough beating there. He was playing very well. [It] surprised me a bit how well Alcaraz was playing back in Marbella. He showed me that the young guys are coming. I felt like it was time for me to step up a little bit.”

[WATCH LIVE 1]

Ruud was aiming to reach his maiden Masters 1000 final in Monte-Carlo, but he was unable to overcome sixth seed Andrey Rublev on Court Rainier III. The World No. 27’s run to the final four at the Monte-Carlo Country Club marked his second straight semi-final appearance at a clay Masters 1000 event (Rome 2020).

“I played well here in Monte-Carlo, which gave me confidence,” said Ruud. “Unfortunately, [it] wasn't to be today. It's been a good week. I've been playing good matches and beating good players. It's a very good start of the clay court season for me.”

En route to the semi-finals, Ruud beat a trio of established ATP Tour stars best known for their clay-court prowess. The Oslo native, who trains at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar in Mallorca, defeated World No. 9 Diego Schwartzman, Marbella titlist Pablo Carreno Busta and defending champion Fabio Fognini in consecutive matches.

“I had some good wins here,” said Ruud. “The three previous rounds against Schwartzman, Carreno Busta and Fognini, I played well. I was able to beat very good players, especially on a clay court, which I think is their best surface.”

Ruud is keen to use his strong performance in the Principality as a springboard. Last year’s Buenos Aires titlist is already focused on testing his skills at future events, including back-to-back Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Rome next month.

“I'm taking with me a lot of confidence for the next tournaments. I'm really looking forward to the next Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Rome, where I will try to do my best to try to defend my semi-final from last year,” said Ruud. “I have good memories from Rome. And I'm looking forward to playing Madrid. It will be my first time playing the main draw event there.

“Some nice weeks [are] coming. It's been a very good start of the European clay court season for me. I'm ready for the next tournaments.”

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/ruud-monte-carlo-2021-saturday-reaction

Evans: 'I Will Never Forget Beating Novak'

Daniel Evans says that he will take a lot of great memories out of his run to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters semi-finals, in spite of losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas on Saturday.

“It's been a good week; it's been pretty long [and] it’s been mentally pretty draining,” said Evans, who came into the ATP Masters 1000 tournament at the Monte-Carlo Country Club on the back of a 10-match losing streak.

“I've not been home since I think before Australia. I'm really enjoying being out and playing matches. It's really helped playing doubles with Neal [Skupski and] sort of have a pretty good friend here. Obviously, I got my girlfriend… Granted, we're in a bubble. But it's been a pretty easy workplace to play and to live in.”

[WATCH LIVE 1]

The 30-year-old Briton knocked out World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5 in the third round on Thursday and is projected to return to his career-high of No. 26 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday.

“You can't say it's bad to beat the World No. 1, but it was pretty draining, like, the day after [and] the end of that day,” said Evans. “I could know what to expect of it more with bigger wins. Yeah, it was difficult. Today, the nature of the game at this level, especially Masters [1000], at any time of the tournament, you have to back up win after win after win, if you want to go all the way."

Evans, who lost to Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-1 in the semi-finals, added, “Today was difficult. Obviously doesn't help the way he plays. He's very aggressive. So there's still work to be done. I can't be negative about today. [I] just have to park that and go again really. It's been a great week. I won't ever forget beating Novak, World No. 1. Yesterday to back it up in a great match was good, as well.”

The British No. 1, who captured his first ATP Tour title in February at the Murray River Open (d. Auger-Aliassime), is now 10-6 on the season and is looking forward to the rest of the clay swing.

“I'm genuinely enjoying playing tennis and competing, having a good battle,” said Evans. “I lost, but I enjoyed it. It's another great time on a tennis court, on a great court. I've enjoyed all the other matches.

“I prepared well. I gave myself the best chance. That's what I'll do for the rest of the season. I think on the clay, I could take some of that onto the grass. Maybe [onto] the Grand Slams, on the hard, I've been putting a bit too much pressure [on myself], looking to really want to win.

“Rather than when I come out on the clay, I'm more focused on my game and trying to get that right, then the result comes. There's things to maybe take onto the grass and the hard from this week definitely.”

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/evans-reaction-monte-carlo-2021-saturday

Draw Preview: Djokovic, Karatsev On Belgrade Collision Course

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will play on home soil for the first time in a decade when he hits the court at his eponymous tennis centre to begin his 2021 Serbia Open campaign.

Djokovic leads the pack as seven other Serbians contest the main draw in Belgrade. Most of them, including fourth seed Dusan Lajovic and fifth seed Filip Krajinovic, landed on the opposite side of the draw. But Djokovic could get a first-time meeting with eighth-seeded countryman Miomir Kecmanovic in the quarter-finals.

View Belgrade Singles Draw

The top seed will start against Soonwoo Kwon or a qualifier at the Novak Tennis Centre as he seeks his third title at the ATP 250 event in Belgrade, and his 83th career trophy. Djokovic lifted two trophies during the tournament’s previous four-year run, triumphing in 2009 and 2011. 

Also in Djokovic’s half of the draw is third seed Aslan Karatsev, and the pair could meet for the second time this season should they reach the semi-finals. Karatsev was the breakthrough story at the start of the year after his dream run from qualifying to his first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open. Djokovic sent him crashing back to earth in the last four, cruising to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory on his way to his record-extending ninth Melbourne crown.

But Karatsev will have to get through a tricky opening match first. He awaits the winner between Aljaz Bedene and #NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda, who reached the quarter-finals in Miami and final in Delray Beach before the clay season.

[WATCH LIVE 2]

Italian Matteo Berrettini anchors the bottom half of the Belgrade draw as the second seed. He will start against either Serbian wild card Viktor Troicki, a former World No. 12, or countryman Marco Cecchinato. Berrettini is contesting his second tournament back from a rib injury, which caused him to withdraw from the Australian Open at the start of the season.

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/djokovic-belgrade-2021-draw-preview

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