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Ricky’s Tennis pick for the Monte-Carlo masters final: Tsitsipas vs. Davidovich Fokina

Stefanos Tsitsipas plays for back-to-back Monte-Carlo titles on Sunday. Photo credit: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters Facebook

By Ricky Dimon

Stefanos Tsitsipas has made a return trip to the final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and will have the chance to successfully defend his title on Sunday afternoon.

His opponent is much more surprising than last year’s, when Tsitsipas defeated Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-3 to lift the trophy. This time around the other finalist is Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who is No. 46 in the world and unseeded this week.

Saturday marks their third meeting and their second straight in Monte-Carlo. During quarterfinal action last spring, Tsitsipas took the first set 7-5 before the Spaniard retired. They also faced each other earlier this season on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam and it went the distance, with the Greek getting the job done 7-5, 6-7(1), 6-4.

Clearly the underdog is more than capable of being competitive in this matchup, but the odds are stacked against him when it comes to pulling off the upset. Davidovich Fokina is coming off consecutive three-setters against Taylor Fritz and Grigor Dimitrov, part of a grueling week highlighted by a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1 defeat of world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the second round.

“I am so, so happy to be in the final,” the 22-year-old Spaniard assured. “It is a dream come true. When I was a kid I was dreaming about this day…. Since preseason in December, we worked very hard to have (a) moment like this. From the beginning of this season I had a lot of matches that I could have won, but I lost them. I just continued to keep believing to keep pushing; doesn’t matter about the results. I am just enjoying every moment and playing every ball.”

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Photo credit: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

Tsitsipas endured one thriller on his way to the championship match. In the quarterfinals against Diego Schwartzman, the No. 3 seed squandered a 6-2, 5-2 lead, lost the second set, fell behind 4-0 in the third, and then reeled off six straight games to prevail. He otherwise has not dropped a set, including a 6-4, 6-2 beatdown of Alexander Zverev in the semis. That will leave Tsitsipas well-rested for Sunday’s final.

“It’s going to take a little bit more (to beat Davidovich Fokina),” Tsitsipas said. “He’s on a good run; in a good rhythm. I’ve played him before. He’s a good opponent; I’ve had big battles against him and I’m going to try and be as ready as possible.”

This one should be extremely entertaining for a while, as both players are awesome on clay and in great form. However, this is Davidovich Fokina’s first-ever ATP final–not just his first at the Masters 1000 final. Tsitsipas has all of the experience and is more rested, so look for him to take control and then cruise to victory.

Pick: Tsitsipas in 2

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