Stefanos Tsitsipas successfully defends title in Monte Carlo

Stefanos Tsitsipas
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MONACO — Stefanos Tsitsipas appeared happy to hear fans “yelling and chanting” again at the Monte Carlo Masters as he beat unseeded Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 7-6 (3) to retain his title.

“It’s a great feeling because we had the crowd this year,” the third-seeded Greek said after winning the first big final of the clay-court season. “It was a bit more lively than last year.”

The coronavirus meant the 2020 edition was canceled and the 2021 tournament held without fans. So Tsitsipas felt the intensity more on his way to an eighth career title.

“It’s much more nerve-racking to have people involved, you have the fans yelling and chanting, but it was a great way to top it off with lots of fighting in the end,” Tsitsipas said. “He fought in moments I did not expect him to fight.”

Davidovich Fokina, the Spaniard who knocked out Novak Djokovic in the second round, was playing his first ATP final.

Tsitsipas, who lost last year’s French Open final in five sets to Djokovic after leading 2-0, became the first repeat champion at the Monte Carlo Masters since Rafael Nadal in 2018.

Tsitsipas won the first set despite conceding an early break. Davidovic Fokina overcame an early break in the second and broke twice. Tsitsipas squandered a chance to serve out the match at 5-4 but still wrapped up the final in 1 hour, 36 minutes.

“I am very proud of myself,” Tsitsipas said. “Things weren’t going well at one point, but I managed to stay composed.”

The 23-year-old Tsitsipas reached the semifinals of the Australian Open in January.

The identity of his opponent in Sunday’s final surprised many.

“I must confess that he was not the Spaniard I was expecting in the final,” said Zeljko Franulovic, the tournament’s director, with 11-time winner Rafael Nadal not playing in Monte Carlo because of a rib injury.

As well as knocking out Djokovic, Davidovich Fokina also beat Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinals and Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals.

“It was an amazing experience,” the 22-year-old Spaniard said about the tournament.

Davidovich Fokina said it had increased his confidence for the rest of the season.

“I will be focused on every point, every game,” Davidovich Fokina said.

Giron cruises in 3rd set, beats Rybakov at Dallas Open

2023 Australian Open - Day 1
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DALLAS – Marcos Giron advanced to the second round of the Dallas Open with a 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-1 victory over Alex Rybakov on Tuesday.

The seventh-seeded Giron, who reached the semifinals of the inaugural event a year ago, responded quickly after failing to close out the second set, winning the first five games of the deciding set.

Rybakov broke his fellow American when Giron was serving for the match in the second set. Then Rybakov won the first six points of the second-set tiebreaker.

“I’m really happy with how I was able to reset in the third and just get back to the game plan from the beginning and elevate,” Giron said. “He played well and served well and kind of hung in there.”

Eighth-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France won the final five points of a first-set tiebreaker and the last four games of the second to beat American Steve Johnson 7-6 (6), 6-2.

J.J. Wolf, the No. 6 seed, had little trouble in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fellow American Brandon Holt.

John Isner, the fifth seed and unofficial tournament host in his hometown event, played later Tuesday. Like Giron, Isner lost in the semifinals last year.

Sock wins at Dallas Open, set to face top-seeded Fritz

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DALLAS – Wild-card entry Jack Sock opened with a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Ilya Ivashka at the Dallas Open, setting up a second-round meeting with top-seeded fellow American Taylor Fritz.

Sock broke Ivashka’s serve in the final game to win the match. Ivashka fell behind 2-0 to start the final set but broke Sock to get back on serve.

Down a break early in the second set, Ivashka rallied to force the deciding set after Sock cruised in the first-set tiebreaker.

The eighth-ranked Fritz is back for the second Dallas Open after losing in the semifinals as the top seed in the inaugural edition of the indoor hard-court event last year. Defending champion Reilly Opelka isn’t in the field.