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Ricky’s preview and pick for the Monte-Carlo Tennis • Tsitsipas vs. Rublev


Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece reacts during his semi final match against Daniel Evans of Britain at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament ?in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, 17 April 2021. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER

By Ricky Dimon

Either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Andrey Rublev will become a Masters 1000 champion for the first time on Sunday. To say it will be well-deserved would be a gross understatement.

Rublev has been one of the best players on tour dating back to the start of 2020 and Tsitsipas is not too far behind during the same time span. The natural progression for both men would be a Masters title. Rublev has won four 500 tournaments–all in the last seven months. Tsitsipas was the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion and he is a two-time runner-up at Masters 1000s (Canada in 2018, Madrid 2019).

They couldn’t be closer in terms of head-to-head history, too. Their six previous ATP-level meetings have been split at three wins apiece, including a 1-1 record on clay. Rublev triumphed 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the 2020 Hamburg final before Tsitsipas rolled 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 a little more than a week later in the French Open quarters. They most recently faced each other last month in Rotterdam, where the Russian prevailed 6-3, 7-6(2).

Clay arguably gives Tsitsipas more of an advantage thanks to his variety in shot-making and his incredible movement on it. The world No. 5, who came within one set of the Roland Garros title match last fall, has certainly looked like the best player this week in Monte-Carlo. He has not dropped a set while taking out Aslan Karatsev, Cristian Garin, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, and Dan Evans.

“I’m feeling good,” Tsitsipas assured. “I’m feeling energized. I still have plenty of gas and energy left in me. 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.”

Rublev endured a more difficult path that featured victories over Salvatore Caruso, Roberto Bautista Agut, Rafael Nadal, and Casper Ruud. The world No. 8 needed three sets against both Bautista Agut and Nadal before holding off Ruud 6-3, 7-5 in the semis.

Andrey Rublev of Russia reacts during his semi final match against Casper Ruud of Norway at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament ?in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, 17 April 2021. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER

“This week I’m really controlling my emotions [very well],” Rublev explained. “That’s why I’m doing well. That’s why I won the match with [Bautista Agut] 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 came back because I didn’t go crazy. I just kept focused; I kept staying in the match. It turned around.”

Although Rublev–and Tsitsipas, for that matter–is in amazing physical shape, the rigors of this week cannot be entirely discounted. Tsitsipas is far more rested both mentally and physically, and clay probably gives him another slight edge.

Look for the Greek to get the job done, but it should be far tougher than it was for him in the French Open quarterfinals.

Pick: Tsitsipas in 3

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

Editors Note: With Ricky on the winner but I think in straight sets. (2). ( LJ) 
Have We missed it or has Prince Albert been around?