Monte Carlo madness: Top two ousted in semis

CLAY courts can tend to throw up some big results, and that was certainly the case in the semi-final stage of the 2024 Monte Carlo Masters. With the top two in the world, Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner heading for a memorable final, many expected the pair to face-off in the decider. The only problem? Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas had other ideas.

Both the underdogs are strong clay court players, but even so taking on the best two in the world – who had only lost three matches and one match respectively this year – was going to be a tough task. However Ruud – who fell away in the second set and won 11 points less than the Serbian world number one in the match – converted breaks at crucial times to secure the match.

The Norwegian world number 10 broke twice to Djokovic’s once in the deciding set, while capitalising off hi opponent’ second serve, winning five of nine. Though not perfect in the match, his performance was enough to stop Djokovic winning a third Monte Carlo Masters title.

Ruud’s victory was even more remarkable considering he had never taken a set off Djokovic in the pair’s previous five meetings. Admitting to nerves in the final set, Ruud said he was relieved to see Djokovic serve a double fault on match point.

“I am super happy,” Ruud said post-match. “This is a day I will remember for a long time. Beating a world number one is something I have never done and beating Novak is something I have never done. I am very, very happy. I am a little bit in a state of shock right now.

“I was up in the third and he came back, typical how good these guys are under pressure. And I was thinking please don’t let this slip away and 0/40 in the last game, it is not done. When he missed the first serve [at 30/40], he saved so many break points in crazy ways, with huge second serves. I prayed one time, let it be a double fault and something above listened and of course it was unfortunate to end the match with a double fault but for me it was nice to see that ball sail long.”

Meanwhile Tsitsipas managed to halt the incredible force that was Sinner in a three-set epic. The Greek talent – who had been in sensational form this tournament – came back from a break down at 2-4 in the third set, to close out the match, 6-4 3-6 6-4 and book his place in the final.

Tsitsipas served seven aces to won and won 70 and 62 per cent of his first and second serve points to keep the pressure on Sinner throughout the contest. Forcing the Italian to save 12 of 15 break points, Tsitsipas’ third break proved the difference with Sinner only able to break the 12th seed twice in the match.

“It was tennis at its highest level that I have been able to play. Jannik was an extremely difficult opponent and it can be seen throughout the year so far. He has been very consistent and I could see that throughout today with his game,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “He is one of the toughest opponents I have faced so far and to find ways when there weren’t that many, I am proud of that. He gave me a very difficult game and [the] way I overcame it is true excellence.”


[8] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) 6-4 1-6 6-4
[12] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [2] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 6-4 3-6 6-4

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