On Sunday the Monte Carlo Masters trophy will be engraved with a new champion with either Andrey Rublev or Holger Rune’s name being scratched into it after they contest the first clay 1000 level event being played this season.
We played each other twice. It’s 1-1 head-to-head, so it’s going to be interesting, for sure Holger Rune
For Rublev it will be his second appearance in the title round at the Principality and if successful, he will be the first Russian to win the prestigious event since Andrei Chesnokov in 1990. It is his 19th career final and overall victory would extend his total of titles to 13 in what is his third appearance at a Masters’ final.
In Runes case, the 19-year-old Dane already has a Masters’ title to his credit, namely the Rolex Paris indoor crown picked up last November. It will be the teenager’s 6th career final and second at Masters’ level and should he prevail in Monaco, it will be a first for his nation at the historical championships.
Rublev was the first to make the title match on semi-final day which had to contend with persistent drizzle and a couple of rain interruptions before he aome back from a set down to defeat the 8th-seeded Taylor Fritz of the US, 5-7,6-1 6-3.
“It was really tough, especially against Taylor,” Rublev said after his win. “I lost past three times I think, in Indian Wells in the semi-finals. It was tough mentally to play against him because I was thinking if I would have [a chance].
“I started really well and then I was up a break and then he broke me back, but I knew I would have chances. In the end we had a great match, and I am pleased with the win.”
Fritz took command of the match and looked set to repeat his previous successes over Rublev after the Russian had failed to serve out at 5-4 as the American broke back and claimed three successive games to snatch the set.
But Rublev shrugged off that hic-up and struck back to dominate the second set early and also grabbed an early break in the decider, so Fritz must have been delighted to see the umpire momentarily suspend the match as the rain levels increased, driving them off court with Rublev leading 3-2 in the third.
They returned after nearly two hours and while Fritz’s level improved it wasn’t enough to prevent Rublev securing his second final appearance at the championships after two-hours and 7-minutes of play.
In the second semi, Rune also had to come back from a set down to deny the 7th seeded Sinner 1-6 7-5 7-5.
“It was quite unbelievable,” Rune commented. “Jannik started firing, hitting a lot of winners and he has been in good form the past few months. I had to dig deep and find solutions, which I did well. It was fun to play like this.”
It was a tight match lasting two-hours and 46-minutes with Rune struggling to get into it in the first set but once he had the measure of the court and his opponent, he matched him over the next two, converting three of his break point chances at crucial stages of the match to take the next two.
The pair also suffered a rain delay with Rune leading 3-0 in the second, which gave the Italian some time to reflect which he did and, on their return after an hour, got himself back on serve only to falter at critical moments.
Speaking ahead of the final, Rune commented: “I expect for myself to push full. It’s the last push, it’s the last match of the tournament.
“He had three sets today as well, so he must be feeling the legs a little bit, I hope. I don’t know. You know, it’s going to be great.
“We played each other twice. It’s 1-1 head-to-head, so it’s going to be interesting, for sure.”
Rublev, who scored his win over the youngster in their last meeting at the Australian Open, said in turn: “Just to do the same thing like I did all the other days. Relax, do the treatment, have dinner, and that’s it. Not even thinking that I’m having something tomorrow.”