Tsitsipas reigns over Monte Carlo once again

The Roland-Garros finalist achieved the rare feat to retain the Masters 1000 title in the Principality.

Stefanos Tsitsipas / Monte-Carlo 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

The 2006 edition of the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 was the first ever ATP event that a star-struck Stefanos Tsitsipas attended.

That six-year-old was completely captivated but “not in a million years would I have thought I am in the position I am today,” claimed the Greek last week.

Tsitsipas had put on a glorious clay-court exhibition to compliment the surroundings by retaining his Monte Carlo title, edging the explosive Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 7-6(3) for his second Masters crown.

The 23-year-old joins a pretty prestigious list of six players to win back-to-back at the Principality alongside Ilie Nastase (1971-73), Bjorn Borg (1979-80), Thomas Muster (1995-96), Juan Carlos Ferrero (2002-03) and Rafael Nadal (2005-12, 2016-18), who have all triumphed at Roland-Garros too.

“It's very encouraging, absolutely. I really want to improve the stat and make it even better,” quipped the world No.5 with a smirk.

The Greek is opening ambitious, eager to bring his flamboyant, but gritty displays from Monte Carlo throughout the year, to Roland-Garros and beyond.

Specifically, only five active players; Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Daniil Medvedev, Andy Murray and Nadal have reached No.2 in the rankings and that is where Tsitsipas is intent on landing.

“I’m always trying to bring the best I can from clay and adjust accordingly to the other surfaces. I really want to be doing well on hard and grass this year, because I feel like I can really get a lot of points there,” said last summer’s Roland-Garros finalist.

“If I'm able to win matches with the same consistency I do on this surface, I think I have a big chance of finishing the year in the top two, which is a huge goal of mine to be finally there and belong in that special group of players.”

After the final the 23-year-old signed the broadcast camera “Never leave quietly” and his tennis made sure to make some noise.

Consistently aggressive, consistently finding the answers, the Greek’s shots had picturesque brush stroke archs to them, his net play demanding raucous applause from the stands with diving putaways, it was a standout week of standout tennis.

Tsitsipas, lifting his first title since May last year in Lyon, rallied past Fabio Fognini, Laslo Djere and second seed Alexander Zverev without dropping a set.

His quarter-final duel indicates a strong Roland-Garros in the pipeline, fending off a blistering fightback from Diego Schwartzman, reeling in the Argentine from 0-4 down in the decider to prevail, hunched over the net, simply exhausted.

He wants the accolades, the prestige of his high-flying rivals and portrayed a player ready to do so in Monte Carlo.

“It's a great feeling, because we had the crowd this year involved. It was a bit more lively than last year,” added the world No.5.

“It was a great way to top it off with lots of fighting in the end. Not so much going for clean winners or for too much beautiful tennis, but trying to put in the hard work in every single point and go over the limits.”

Over to Barcelona this week and the Greek will be the top seed. Another stellar showing in Spain and he’ll be in fine fettle to go over the limits on the grounds of Roland-Garros.