10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Ricky’s preview and pick for the Monte-Carlo final: Rublev vs. Rune

The Monte-Carlo Masters championship match is not one that many could have expected at the beginning of the week, but if the most recent encounter between Holger Rune and Andrey Rublev is any indication then we should be in for an awesome contest.

Rune and Rublev endured a roller-coaster ride in the fourth round of the Australian Open earlier this year. Rublev survived 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(11-9), but not before he fell behind 5-2 in the fifth set, fought off two match points at 5-6, trailed 5-0 in the ensuing tiebreaker, and finally won the ‘breaker with a return winner off the net cord at 10-9.

The two competitors’ only other meeting came this past fall at the Paris Indoors, where Rune prevailed 6-4, 7-5. That marked one of an incredible five top-10 wins for him on his way to the title–including an upset of Novak Djokovic in the final.

The 19-year-old Dane is now one win away from a second Masters Series title following Monte-Carlo defeats of Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, and Jannik Sinner. He also got a third-round walkover from Matteo Berrettini.

Whereas Rune is already a Masters 1000 winner, Rublev is still trying to get over that hump–somewhat similar to his struggles in the quarterfinals of Grand Slams (0-7 in such situations). The Russian is 0-2 lifetime in Masters finals, having suffered straight-set beatdowns twice in 2021 (to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Monte-Carlo and to Alexander Zverev in Cincinnati). Add in doubles and Rublev is 0-5 lifetime in Masters 1000 finals.

That’s not to say Rublev has no chance. The world No. 6 is playing well once again at this tournament with victories over Jaume Munar, Karen Khachanov, Jan-Lennard Struff, and Taylor Fritz.

Rublev will almost surely be competitive, but Rune has the better all-court game–especially on clay–and with a Masters 1000 triumph already under his belt he has more confidence than Rublev in this scenario.

Pick: Rune in 3

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