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Stefanos Tsitsipas Soars to Maiden Masters 1000 Title in Monte-Carlo

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece celebrates with the trophy after stopping Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-3 in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER

Striking declarative drives with force of a man slamming shut a door against a strong wind, Stefanos Tsitsipas realized masterful Monte-Carlo breakthrough.

A stylish Tsitsipas rode his gusty forehand and smooth all-court acumen to his maiden Masters 1000 title overwhelming Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-3 in today’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final.

When Rublev’s final shot sprayed wide, Tsitsipas dropped to his knees and raised his arms in joy capturing his sixth career title and making history as the first Greek man to claim a Masters 1000 championship.

That was about the only time the world No. 5 looked down all week.

In a commanding week of some of his most dynamic tennis, Tsitsipas did not drop a set and permitted just 28 games in five tournament wins en route to his first title of the season.

Prince Albert II of Monaco attends the final between Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER

Prince Albert II of Monaco and a limited number of tournament staffers were on hand to see Tsitsipas’ rise to Masters royalty capping a wild week tha saw world No. 1 Novak Djokovic bow to Dan Evans and second-ranked Daniil Medvedev fail to post after testing positive for Coronavirus on Tuesday.

It’s the second-biggest title of Tsitsipas’ career—after his triumphant run to the 2019 ATP Finals championship in London—and completes a memorable Monte-Carlo family journey.

Forty years ago, Tsitsipas’ mother, former WTA pro Julia Salnikova, won a junior title at the Monte-Carlo Country Club and was on hand today, along with the entire family, watching Stefanos streak into history. 

The mother and child championship reunion was the most moving aspect of Tsitsipas’ maiden major.

“This is incredible,” Tsitsipas said. “I think first time I walked in that club, in the Monte Carlo Country Cub, with my mom, I think that was when I was six years old. She showed me that name up there. I remember seeing it for the first time. I was, like, stunned. I was like, Wow, that is really cool. How cool is that?

“I actually started thinking about it. I didn’t think about it in the beginning of the tournament, but it came to my mind when I was playing the semifinals. I was thinking that would be really cool to be in this together, like mother like son. That’s where the whole purpose came from. I feel like there was an enormous amount of willingness to want to do more in order to be there with my mom.”

The fourth-seeded Tsitsipas commanded the clay defusing one of the game’s most explosive hitters by beating ex-boxer Rublev to the punch. Early breaks empowered Tsitsipas to swing freely. He won 24 of 28 first-serve points and did not face a break point in a one hour, 11-minute victory.

On the surface, this seventh encounter between former junior rivals pitted Tsitsipas’ all-court skills vs. Rublev’s jolting baseline attack. In reality, Tsitsipas didn’t need to employ his entire attack yet still showed more gears to his game than the Russian hitting 18 winners compared to 10 for his opponent.

Andrey Rublev did not earn a break point against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the final. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER

Avenging his 7-5-in-the-third-set loss to Rublev in the Hamburg final last fall, Tsitsipas beat his former junior rival for the fourth time in seven meetings giving us a glimpse of what may well be future finals in Masters events across different surfaces.

In a tremendous week that saw him battle past his tennis hero, 11-time champion Rafael Nadal, in a rousing Friday night quarterfinal upset, Rublev couldn’t match Tsitsipas’ intensity or control at the outset, fell behind an early break in both sets and couldn’t close the gap against the Greek.

Still, Rublev, who owns an ATP-best 24 wins in 2021, will rise to No. 7 in the new rankings.