10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Tennis Surprises • Tsitsipas, Dimitrov, and Davidovich Fokina win on wild day at Monte-Carlo Masters

Alexander Zverev fought off Jannik Sinner to reach the Monte-Carlo semifinals. Photo credit: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

By Ricky Dimon

All four quarterfinal matches at the Monte-Carlo Masters went the distance on Friday. The result is a semifinal lineup featuring Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Grigor Dimitrov, Alexander Zverev, and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

No winner had an easy time of it–and that’s an understatement. Both Dimitrov and Zverev required final-set tiebreakers to advance, while Davidovich Fokina lost the first set against Taylor Fritz and was six points from defeat in the second and then Tsitsipas came back from a 4-0 deficit in the third set against Diego Schwartzman.

At two hours and 25 minutes, Davidovich Fokina vs. Fritz was the shortest quarterfinal match. Zverev’s 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(5) victory over Jannik Sinner was the longest at three hours and seven minutes.

“It means a lot, definitely, especially [with] how this year has been going so far for me,” said Zverev, who has not yet won a title in 2020 and has reached only one final (Montpellier). “I’ve lost long matches like that, so I’m happy I won this one.”

Tsitsipas vs. Schwartzman wasn’t as long, but it was the most extreme roller-coaster ride in the quartet of thrillers. The fourth-ranked Greek failed to close out the match from 6-2, 5-2 up, including a service donation at love while trying to finish off the win at 5-3. Starting at 5-2, Tsitsipas lost eight of the next nine games. From out of nowhere, though, the No. 3 seed reeled off six straight games of his own to turn a 4-0 deficit into a 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-4 triumph.

Stefanos Tsitsipas. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER

His comeback included one of the shots of the year at 5-4, deuce–a successful diving-volley winner in response to a Schwartzman forehand pass that looked like it would be well out of Tsitsipas’ reach.

“There was a moment in the match where I felt what I was doing wasn’t working,” Tsitsipas commented. “He had a massive lead and momentum in what he was trying to do. I just tried to stay in the match as much as I could and that worked out very well. I wasn’t expecting much at that point being a double-break down, so I relaxed at that point.

“I had a big chance to close it out, but Diego is Diego. I had to be Stefanos in the third set…. It was extremely close.”

That closing statement pretty much sums up the entire day in Monte-Carlo.

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