Tsitsipas successfully defends his title in Monte Carlo |


MONACO (AP) — Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first repeat champion at the Monte Carlo Masters since Rafael Nadal in 2018 with a 6-3, 7-6(3) victory over unranked Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Sunday.

“It’s a great feeling because we’ve had the crowd this year,” the third-seeded Greek said after winning the first grand final of the season on clay. “It was a bit livelier than last year.”

Davidovich Fokina, the Spaniard who knocked out Novak Djokovic in the second round, was playing in his first ATP final.

Tsitsipas won the first set despite an early break. Davidovic Fokina overcame an early break in the second and got broken twice.

Tsitsipas squandered a chance to serve out the match at 5-4 but still wrapped up the final in 1 hour and 34 minutes.

“I’m very proud of myself,” Tsitsipas said. “Things weren’t going well at one point, but I managed to stay calm.”

Tsitsipas, 23, reached the Australian Open semi-finals in January.

The identity of his opponent in Sunday’s final surprised many.

“I have to admit he was not the Spaniard I expected in the final,” said Zeljko Franulovic, tournament director 11-time winner Rafael Nadal not playing in Monte Carlo due to a rib injury.

Besides knocking out Djokovic, Davidovich Fokina also beat Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz in the quarter-finals and Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-finals.

“It was an amazing experience,” the 22-year-old Spaniard said of the tournament.

Davidovich Fokina said it boosted his confidence for the rest of the season.

“I don’t know if I will win another game, but I will be focused on every point, every game,” Davidovich Fokina said.

Tsitsipas was delighted by the rowdy crowd, after the coronavirus led to the cancellation of the 2020 edition and the 2021 tournament went ahead without fans.

“It’s a lot more annoying to have people involved, you have the fans screaming and singing, but it was a great way to top it off with a lot of fighting at the end,” Tsitsipas said. “He fought in times when I didn’t expect him to fight.”

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