Monte Carlo | A Djokovic v Sinner final is on the cards

The field of 64 at the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters has been whittled down to a group of four players from which, on Sunday, one will be receiving the prestigious ‘Coupe de la Ville de Monaco’ trophy from H.S.H. Prince Albert II, the Sovereign Prince of the Principality.

I come back here, and I sort of relive those memories of the past. It gives good feelings to me when I’m able to play in front of crowds like this and be able to try and strive for excellence with my game Stefanos Tsitsipas

The group consists of Novak Djokovic, Casper Ruud, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jannik Sinner and while there have been a few upsets during the week, no surprises in the semi-final line-up.

Of the four only Tsitsipas, champion in 2021 & 2022, had the easiest of the quarter finals dispatching Karen Khachanov 6-4 6-2 in just 82-minutes taking full advantage of the increasing number of errors from the Russian who required physio treatment in the second set.

“I would lie if I said it doesn’t bring good memories stepping out on this court,” Tsitsipas said following his victory.

“I come back here, and I sort of relive those memories of the past. It gives good feelings to me when I’m able to play in front of crowds like this and be able to try and strive for excellence with my game.”

The Greek world No.12, reflecting on the actual match, added: “My returns were effective. I was generating a lot of pace and gained good momentum at some point.

“He seemed good and well composed in his tennis. He wasn’t giving away too many unforced errors and seemed pretty calm from behind the baseline.

“I tried to do my part, which was to press as much as I could and not rush myself into the rallies.

“I was trying to predict and read certain things on the court and it worked out pretty well. I took my time once again to understand what works and what doesn’t and today, I was persistent in my efforts to walk away with something good.”

He will need all that concentration when he takes on Sinner in the first of Saturday’s semi-finals, the Italian,who has taken the season by storm with just one loss to his name to-date and three titles to his name, including the Australian Open, the first major of 2024.

Jannik Sinner withstood the pressure calmly

(Photo by Mateo Villalba/Getty Images)

In what was an intriguing match, Sinner eventually quelled the feisty Dane Holger Rune 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3 but required two-hours and 40-minutes to put the young Dane down in what proved to be the longest quarter final of the day.

The pair are set to be challenging each other over the coming years with just two years separating them but the elder at 22, Sinner, has learnt to control his emotions better and that factor saw him through what proved a challenging match for him.

Nonetheless he failed to convert two match points in the second set and was forced into a decider where he eventually prevailed.

Speaking after the win, the Italian said of his upcoming semi-final: “Tomorrow is going to be a tough one for sure. Against Stefanos, who is playing well. Let’s see what I can do tomorrow.”

He added: “I just focus on my side… It’s all part of the learning process.

“Even if I [had lost] today, I learn again, so I’m very happy about today. It has been a very tough match. I’m very happy about the win.”

Novak Djokovic wants to regain the title

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

In the top half of the draw, Djokovic was well tested by Alex de Minaur who was unable to prevent the Serbian world No.1 and former champion of Monaco (2013 & 2015) from reaching his 77th ATP Masters semi-final, a feat he no doubt relished as it takes another record away from his arch-rival, the absent Rafa Nadal.

The quarter final with the Aussie was certainly hard fought over two-hours and three-minutes but eventually the young Aussie, despite his fleetness of foot and excellent retrieving had to bow out 7-5 6-4.

Speaking after the match, Djokovic said: “It was tough for both of us; he’s one of the quickest players on tour. He gets a lot of the balls back which 99% of the other players don’t.

“He surprised me with several passing shots, particularly in the second set when I was up a break.

“He said at the net that it was ugly, and in the second set I think it was because we didn’t play at high level. We made a lot of unforced errors, with some consecutive breaks of serve.

“You kind of expect that for clay, but maybe not this many. Again, a win is a win and I’m glad to go through.

“I love this tournament; I know this club very well and I’ve trained for many years here. The last seven or eight years have been tough for me to win two or three matches consecutively, but I’m in another semi and I look forward to it.”

Casper Ruud has a tough task

(Photo by Mateo Villalba/Getty Images)

His next opponent is the calm and quiet Norwegian, Ruud, a former finalist at Roland Garros on two occasions (2022 & 2023) and certainly no slouch on clay having won nine of his ten titles on the surface. However, he has yet to win a title at a higher level than 250.

World ranked 10, he booked his place in the last four against the top seed after beating Ugo Humbert 6-3 4-6 6-1 in what was a keenly contested match.

The Norwegian looked to be in command when he wrapped up the first set but the Frenchman hit back to snatch the momentum away from the match favourite, who raised his game in the decider with some firm play for a two-hours and 5-minutes victory.

Ruud has no expectations for Saturday’s meeting with Djokovic, declaring: “He’s [Djokovic] had less success at this Masters 1000 tournament, even though he’s won it twice. I’d like to have those numbers as well!

“I heard that it’s his 77th Masters 1000 semi-final, and I can’t even find the words to describe that! I’m going to do my best in a kind of David v Goliath match and I’m going to enjoy it.”

Saturday could prove an eventful day but most pundits will be expecting a Djokovic versus Sinner final on Sunday.



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