Monte Carlo: Rublev, Tsitsipas to clash for first Masters title

  • Matt Trollope

Andrey Rublev or Stefanos Tsitsipas will become an ATP Masters champion for the first time when they meet in Sunday’s Monte Carlo final.

The pair arrived in the title match with straight-sets victories on Saturday; Rublev beat Casper Ruud 6-3 7-5 after Tsitsipas trounced Dan Evans for the loss of just three games.

Tsitsipas’ 6-2 6-1 victory ended Evans’ excellent run in Monte Carlo; the Brit was appearing in his first ever tour-level semifinal on clay and had a few days earlier produced the upset of the tournament by defeating world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

Rublev conjured a notable result of his own this week with a shock three-set win over Rafael Nadal and continued his run on Saturday, recovering from an early break in the first set and 4-2 down in the second to beat Norway’s Ruud. 

The victory saw him advance to his first career Masters final.

Tsitsipas, meanwhile, has appeared in two previous Masters finals – Canada 2018 and Madrid 2019 – and will take confidence from having won his most recent victory against Rublev on clay.

That came in last year’s Roland Garros quarterfinals, just over a week after Rublev had won their clay-court final in Hamburg.

This will be the fifth meeting between Russia’s Rublev and Greece’s Tsitsipas in the past eight months, with Rublev winning their most recent clash in the Rotterdam semifinals six weeks ago. 

And their Monte Carlo final will see the tour’s two most in-form players going head-to-head.

Rublev and Tsitsipas have won more matches than any other men’s player in 2021, and the winner will leave the tournament leading the race to the ATP Finals.

“This week … I'm really controlling my emotions well. That's why I'm doing well,” explained Rublev, who improved his season win-loss record to 24-4 with his triumph over Ruud.

Andrey Rublev celebrates his semifinal victory over Casper Ruud at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Andrey Rublev celebrates his semifinal victory over Casper Ruud at the Monte Carlo Masters. (Getty Images)

“That's why I won the match with Roberto (Bautista Agut in the third round), when I was losing. That's why I won the match against Rafa when he came back in second set. Even today, in the second set, I came back because I didn't go crazy. I just kept focused. I kept in the match. It turned around.

“I lost (In the Miami Open semifinals) because of my emotions. If you want to learn, you will improve this. I want to learn, and I want to improve. That's why I'm doing better.

“I'm feeling great and happy to play one more final, especially my first ATP Masters final. It's going to be tough match. We already had many battles with each other last year. Most of them were super tough three-set matches.”

Tsitsipas, who became the highest-ranked player remaining in the draw with Nadal’s defeat, described himself as feeling “energised” after continuing his head-to-head dominance over Evans

For the first time, he will not face a member of the Big Three in a Masters final.

“I'm really focused for tomorrow,” Tsitsipas said of the looming final.

“I was able to have all of my matches done in two sets, so that is I would say a big plus. I am happy to be able to play that way, just take it match by match, approach each individual match with the same intensity and energy.

“Obviously, it is important to elevate my game and try and push it to the limits. I really, really want to be in that position where I come close to winning big tournaments like this. 

“It's a dream of mine to be playing in the final, honestly.”