Only 24-hours earlier, last year’s finalist at the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters, Andrey Rublev, struggled to get over the finish line to make the round of 16 against the ‘Demon’ from Australia, Alex de Minaur, only to run into an equally dogged opponent in Italy’s young Jannik Sinner.
It was tough. I tried to play every point,. I know him quite well. He plays quite a lot with the forehand. I tried to move him a little bit. Jannik Sinner
On this occasion, much to his frustration, his game not only crumbled from a winning position, but he seemed to lose his way as he collapsed 5-7 6-1 6-3 with Sinner turning the tide when trailing by a set and a break to improve his record against the Muscovite to 2-1 with both victories coming on clay.
Sinner also required medical attention for a blister on his right foot early in the second, before he tore the Rublev game apart to take six consecutive games.
The 20-year-old from San Candido, Italy, is now two wins away from reaching 100 career victories on the tour.
“It is for me very, very special playing here,” said Sinner who is now recorded 19 wins to 3 losses for the year and had the support of a very vocal crowd.,
“Obviously many, many Italians [in the] crowd. It’s incredible.
“It was tough. I tried to play every point,” he said. “I know him quite well. He plays quite a lot with the forehand. I tried to move him a little bit.”
Into his first Monte Carlo quarters and second straight at Masters’ level, Sinner will now face former semi-finalist Alexander Zverev the second seed.
The German has improved his game during the week and on Thursday eased past Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta 6-2 7-5, coming from a break down in the second.
“For the second clay court match of the season, I can’t complain too much,” Zverev said post-match.
“I lost focus a little bit in the second set, but at the end of the day, he’s somebody that can really play. I’m happy with a two-set win.”
Miami Master’s finalist Casper Ruud (4) of Norway fell early going down to the unseeded Bulgarian 30-year-old former world No.3, Grigor Dimitrov, 6-3 7-5 and will face Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz (11) who ousted former finalist Albert Ramos Vinolas of Spain, 7-6(2) 6-2.
Meanwhile the defending champion from Greece, Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) marches on knocking out Serbia’s Laslo Djere 7-5 7-6(1).
“I knew I had to be alert,” Tsitsipas said on court. “He is someone who competes very well on clay. He stays consistent and puts a lot of balls back and I really had to work hard for this win. It was important to get a good dynamic start in the tie-break and stay in rallies and take my chances when they appeared.”
Diego Schwartzman will be next for the Greek. The Argentine rallied to deny 20-year-old Lorenzo Musetti 2-6 6-4 6-3.
Sebastian Korda couldn’t back up his big win over Carlos Alcaraz going down to his countryman Taylor Fritz 7-6(4) 7-5.
Fritz, the Indian Wells champion who beat Rafa Nadal for that title now faces Spain’s last survivor in Monaco, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, the player who halted Novak Djokovic’s return to the tour at the very first hurdle!