Casper Ruud stuns Novak Djokovic to advance to Monte-Carlo Masters final against Stefanos Tsitsipas

MONTE-CARLO, Monaco – Casper Ruud, two-time Roland-Garros finalist (2022, 2023), dominated world No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 on Saturday and qualified for the final of the Masters 1000 in Monte-Carlo where he will face Stefanos Tsistipas.

“I could only play so well otherwise I knew it would be impossible to win. I was lucky to win the first set, especially since I had never taken a single set from him until then,” commented the 25-year-old Norwegian.

“Thanks to that, even after losing the second set I knew I could still win,” he explained.

Indeed, in five meetings until then, the last in the final of Roland-Garros last year, Djokovic had always won and had never even lost a single set against Ruud.

The 25-year-old Norwegian, who also played the final of the US Open in 2023, had his best result in Monte-Carlo a semi-final lost against Andrey Rublev in 2021. He will play his second Masters 1000 final after the one lost in Miami in 2022.

Djokovic started the match by letting his throw slip away. A break exchange in the middle of the set changed nothing, Ruud retained the advantage until the end.

At the start of the second set, Djokovic showed signs of fatigue: he was panting like an ox when changing sides and, between the rallies, looking for the shadow which, little by little, was nibbling away at the court.

And while the temperature dropped significantly, Djokovic dominated the second set head and shoulders, taking advantage of his opponent’s generosity, including several crucial double faults.

Against all expectations, and as the coolness of the end of the day began to envelop the court, the wind turned again and it was Ruud who escaped 3-0.

But, with the help of the public who sometimes began to support him loudly, Djokovic recovered to 4-4.

The Serb served at 4-5 to stay in the game, but could only concede his throw one last time and the match.

Before facing Tsitsipas, “I will try to have a good night and be as ready as possible for the final,” assured Ruud.

A 3rd final for Tsitsipas in Monte-Carlo

Tsitsipas, double winner in 2021 and 2022, qualified for his third final in Monte-Carlo by beating the strong man from the start of the season Jannik Sinner (2nd in the world) 6-4, 3-6, 6- 4.

“I had to find a level that I had not played for a long time on clay,” underlined Tsitsipas, eliminated in the quarterfinals last year.

He had not beaten a player as highly ranked as Sinner on ocher since his victory against Daniil Medvedev (2nd) at Roland-Garros in 2021. And he has not played a Masters 1000 final on this surface since Rome in 2022.

“I am very proud of myself, I showed great potential this week,” he assured, also referring to his round of 16 against Alexander Zverev (5th), whom he dismissed 7-5, 7 -6 (7/3) after being led 5-0 in the second set.

On Saturday, he faced a player that only Carlos Alcaraz had managed to defeat so far this year, in the semi-final in Indian Wells.

For the rest, Sinner had 25 victories and three titles (Australian International, Rotterdam and Miami). But if he had already reached the final four in Monte-Carlo last year, clay is not the Italian’s favorite surface.

Tsitsipas, on the contrary, feels good there as shown by his two titles on the Riviera as well as his final at Roland-Garros in 2021.

Sinner massaged

The Greek also got off to the best start: he managed the break to lead 2-1 and, having left only six points in total to his opponent on his throw, comfortably retained his advantage until the end. end of the round.

But in the second, Sinner also took the upper hand at the start of the set to come away 3-0. He held his throw until the end, but with difficulty. Like the last game of the set, on his serve, which he concluded on his second set point.

In the process, he took the advantage in the decisive set 2-0. At 3-1 against him, Tsitsipas even committed a double fault which would have given Sinner the double break 4-1… if it had been reported. But the Italian played the point and then lost the game, which allowed the Greek not to collapse.

Then the Italian started to have pain in his thighs: he first had the bottom of his right thigh massaged, then the back of the left.

Led 4-2, Tsitsipas won the last four games to qualify.

He will have the opportunity to become the fifth player in the Open era (since 1968) to win the Monte-Carlo tournament at least three times after Ilie Nastase (3), Björn Borg (3), Thomas Muster (3) and Rafael Nadal (11).

He is already certain to return to the world top-10 on Monday.

For his part, by reaching the final four in Monte-Carlo, like last year, Sinner ensured to remain world No. 2.

2024-04-13 14:55:06
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