In what turned out to be a remarkable day at the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters, Stefanos Tsitsipas remains on track to defend the title he won last year in the Principality, but he got a scare before clinching his place in the quarter-finals late in the evening.
It was extremely close. I was really close in the second set. It was the moment when I had a great chance to finish but Diego is Diego and I had to be Stefanos in the third set. Stefanos Tsitsipas
For the first time in the Open Era, all quarter-finalists had to survive three set matches to advance to the last eight, with Tstitispas aiming to become just the third player since 2003 to win the title in consecutive years. . The last was Juan Carlos Ferrero before Rafa Nadal completely dominated the event.
But the Greek third seed will not find it easy as his next opponent will be German second seed Alexander Zverev, who is more than eager to add his name to the list of champions at the Monte Carlo Country Club, who came earlier in the day beating the popular Italian Jannik Sinner, 5-7 6-3 7-6 (5).
Zverev, the world number three, was able to shrug off a thigh problem and looked to have taken command early as he rode a winning streak of 13 points for a 4-1 lead against a 20-year-old opponent nursing a bloated foot!
But Sinner, backed by a very vocal Italian crowd on the French Riviera who regularly cross the border to watch the event, fought back at 4-4 and then won the first set when the tall German dropped a double mistake.
Sinner broke again in the second set to lead 2-1, but Zverev dug deep to pull back and go ahead 5-3, then held the score at one set-all.
The pair again traded breaks in the third set with the Olympic champion eventually edging out a tight tie-break in the decider on his first match point after around three hours of play for his second semi-final appearance at the event, matching his 2018 efforts.
“Sad to have won,” Zverev ironically commented to the large group of Sinner supporters.
“It definitely means a lot, especially how this year has gone so far for me,” Zverev said. “I’ve lost long matches like that, so I’m happy to have won this one,” he added.
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After him on the court, defending champion Tsitsipas recovered 0-4 in the final set to defeat Argentina’s stubborn Diego Schwartzman, securing his final spot at 11:00 p.m. local time.
Tsitsipas had led by a set and 5-2 at one point and appeared to overtake his South American opponent, but little Schwartzman is anything but an easy mark and fought back to extend the game late into the evening before capitulating 6- 2 6-7(3) 6-4.
“There was a moment in the game where I felt what I was doing wasn’t working,” Tsitsipas told the crowd. “He had a massive lead and momentum in what he was trying to do. I just tried to stay in the game as much as possible and it worked really well. I wasn’t expecting much at the time, being a double breakdown, so I relaxed at that point.
“It was extremely close. I was really close in the second set. It was the moment where I had a big chance to finish but Diego is Diego and I had to be Stefanos in the third set.
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Unlike the bottom half of the table, the top half features two unseeded players in the semi-finals, Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.
Davidovich Fokina, 22, ranked 46th who ousted world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the second round, lives up to a ‘giant killer’ tag by adding Indian Wells champion 12th seed Taylor Fritz to his list. top casualties this week with a 2-6 6-4 6-3 win.
On Saturday he will face Dimitrov, who also needed three sets to beat Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 3-6 7-6(2).
“When you beat the world number one, it gives you a lot of confidence physically, mentally and technically,” admitted Davidovich Fokina.
“I push myself every game to play harder and harder.
“I’m so, so happy. Last year I reached the quarter-finals. The emotions of being in the semi-finals are so strong. I’m enjoying every point. In the first set, I had Lots of break opportunities but I didn’t do it, but I stayed focused and believed in myself.
Fritz struggled even in the first set as his Spanish opponent pressed on, with the American complaining of stomach pains twice before being treated by a doctor near the pitch.
The 10th-seeded American, who ended Rafael Nadal’s unbeaten start to the season to lift his maiden Masters trophy at Indian Wells in March, nevertheless secured the opening set with a second break of serve.
Davidovich Fokina fought back and leveled the game with his first set point when Fritz made a mistake when the Spaniard surprisingly got a spike.
Then, in the deciding match, a clean smash from Fritz gave Davidovich Fokina two match points, the first of which was saved but the Spaniard made no mistake with the second, hitting a sublime right-handed winner.
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Dimitrov sealed victory in a thrilling final-set tie-break to reach the semi-finals in Monte Carlo for the second time.
The Bulgarian got the only first-set break to like in game three and held on to his advantage with 11th-placed Hurkacz doing the same in the second, breaking 4-2 with back-to-back bunts that took his opponent to 29th in the deprived. .
In a thrilling third set, the Pole broke twice and served for the match at 5-4, but the former world number three clawed his way back, dominating in two hours, 27 minutes to continue his push to reach a third final of the Masters.
“I’m just going one day at a time,” the Bulgarian said on the pitch. “I worked, that’s all I did. I don’t even think about how I play or anything, I just want [do] a lot of work.
“The clay court season isn’t that long, so you just want to keep building, and that’s all I’m doing right now. Of course, if I had lost that match, it would have been disappointing, but at the same time, I wouldn’t be too down because I did the right things.