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Tsitsipas completes Monte-Carlo tennis title defense with straight-set win over Davidovich Fokina

Stefanos Tsitsipas won his second straight Monte-Carlo crown. Photo credit: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

By Ricky Dimon

The Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters is quickly becoming Stefanos Tsitsipas’ favorite tournament.

Tsitsipas made it back-to-back titles in the principality when he defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 7-6(3) on Sunday afternoon. The world No. 5 had trouble closing it out in the second set, but he steadied himself in a tiebreaker to prevail after one hour and 36 minutes.

Tsitsipas’ victory in 2021 (d. Andrey Rublev in the final) felt a little bit different because capacity was extremely limited due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This time around there was a full throng of fans who appreciated the Greek’s tennis all week long. Most of the time it was dominant tennis, although he did survive one massive scare in the form of a 4-0 third-set deficit against Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals.

“It’s a great feeling,” Tsitsipas said following the final, “because we had the crowd this year involved. It was a bit more lively than last year. I think it’s double more special in a lot of ways, starting from of course much more nerve-racking — to have people involved, you have the fans yelling and chanting. But it was a great way to top it off with lots of fighting in the end. (I was) not so much going for clean winners or for too much beautiful tennis, but trying to put in the hard work in every single point and go over the limits.”

Davidovich Fokina, who stunned Novak Djokovic in the second round, was competing in his first-ever ATP final.

“(It) was (an) amazing experience,” the 22-year-old Spaniard assured. “I enjoyed every day here, winning big, big (matches)…beating Djoko…. (It) was a tough week; (a) lot of emotions. My body now is going down; maybe I need a beer or something.

“But, you know, for me this week with my team was amazing. (It) was a dream come true to play here in Monte-Carlo (with a) full crowd. You know, to hear the people supporting (me) was amazing. I was at the bench thinking, ‘wow, what a moment.'”

For Tsitsipas, it was a moment that one the heels of his 2021 triumph means he is the sixth man to defend a Monte-Carlo title. The other five are Ilie Nastase (1971, 1972, 1973), Bjorn Borg (1979-80), Tomas Muster (1995-96), Juan Carlos Ferrero (2002-2003), and Rafael Nadal (2005-2012, 2016-2018).

Nastase, Borg, Muster, Ferrero, and Nadal are all French Open champions and they all reached No. 1 in the world.

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