Stefanos Tsitsipas delivered a show of strength in the final of the 2022 Monte Carlo Masters on Sunday, April 17 after defeating Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in straight sets with a 6–3, 7–6(7–3) victory. The Greek player, who is currently ranked No. 5 in the world, claimed his second ATP Masters 1000 title as he successfully defended his 2021 Monte Carlo title, which gave him his first Masters title after he defeated Andrey Rublev 6–3, 6–3 in last year’s final.  

This year’s tournament, which was held from Sunday, April 10 to Sunday, April 17, was shocked by the early exit of the first seed and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the second round after a 3–6, 7–6(7–5), 1–6 loss to the unseeded Davidovich Fokina. Unforced errors from Djokovic littered the court as Davidovich Fokina broke three times to win the first set. 

While Djokovic was able to fight back in a tight second set tiebreak and take the match to three sets, the Serbian was then shockingly served a breadstick by Davidovich Fokina in the third set, sealing his exit from the tournament. The upset, which took just under three hours, was an incredible result for Davidovich Fokina, who would go on all the way to the final, but marked a less than ideal return to play for Djokovic.

c/o Rolex MC Masters and ATP Tour

c/o Rolex MC Masters and ATP Tour

Monte Carlo was Djokovic’s first tournament since Dubai in January, where he was knocked out in the quarterfinals after a straight sets loss to Jiri Vesely. The defending Australian Open champion was then deported from Australia and was unable to participate in the first Grand Slam of the year due to his anti-vaccination stance, which also prevented him from competing in the beginning months of the season. While the Serbian would have hoped to return in a much stronger fashion in Monte Carlo, he now sits at a 2–2 win-loss record for the season after being upset by Davidovich Fokina. 

On the other hand, Tsitsipas’ defense of his title began much more smoothly as he faced Italian Fabio Fognini in the second round. Fognini won the 2019 Monte Carlo Masters, but he was no challenge to Tsitsipas this year, with the Greek player’s dominant form allowing him a 6–3, 6–0 victory over Fognini. Tsitsipas then faced Laslo Djere on his way to the quarterfinals, with the match taking just under two hours of fairly evenly-matched play before the Greek player closed the match with a 7–5, 7–6(7–1) victory. 

The quarterfinal saw Tsitsipas matched up with Diego Schwartzman, where he faced his biggest challenge yet in the tournament. While Tsitsipas took the first set 6–2, and looked strong at 5–2 up in the second set, he then threw away his lead as Schwartzman leveled the match at one set each, with Tsitsipas losing nine out of 10 games and letting the Argentinian seal the second set tiebreak 6–7(3–7). Schwartzman then built up a 4–0 lead over the Greek player in the third set. However, Tsitsipas managed to find the energy to rally back and win 6–4 in two hours and 45 minutes, letting him through to the semifinal. 

In the semifinal, Tsitsipas faced Alexander Zverev with much less trouble before reaching the final and earning the chance to defend his 2021 title. It took the Greek player just 75 minutes to prevail in a straight sets victory of 6–4, 6–2, extending his head to head over Zverev to 7-3.

On the other side of the draw, Davidovich Fokina also faced tough competition on his way to his maiden Masters final. After making it past Marcos Giron in straight sets and then succeeding in his shocking defeat of Djokovic, the Spaniard set up a match with David Goffin that he managed handily, finding victory with a 6–4, 6–1 scoreline.

The win led Davidovich Fokina to a quarterfinal match against American Taylor Fritz, who defeated Rafael Nadal just last month at the Indian Wells Masters 6–3, 7–6(7–5) to earn his first Masters 1000 title. While the defeat ended Nadal’s incredible start to the 2022 season and was followed by an announcement that Nadal had been suffering a stress fracture on a rib and would be unable to play for four to six weeks, it also showcased Fritz’s strength as a formidable young opponent. 

Against Fritz, Davidovich Fokina lost the first set 2–6 in a closer fight than the scoreline indicated, but fought back in the second, taking it 6–4 to set up a deciding third set. With Fritz looking like he was struggling more and more as the match continued, Davidovich Fokina sealed his comeback victory as he won the final set 6–3.

In the semifinal, Davidovich Fokina then managed a three-set win against Grigor Dimitrov, continuing what had become a dream run in Monte Carlo. While the Spaniard had been up 5–3 in the second set before Dimitrov fought back to take the match to three sets, Davidovich Fokina eventually recovered and managed to rally back from being a break down in the third to win in two hours and 42 minutes with a 6–4, 6–7(2–7), 6–3 scoreline. 

Davidovich Fokina and Tsitsipas met in Monte Carlo last year during the quarterfinals, where the Spaniard retired after losing the first set. The 2022 Monte Carlo final, however, would see both players fighting for the entire duration of the match. As the final got underway, Tsitsipas looked to be the stronger player, and sealed the first set by holding serve with a love game. The two were more evenly matched in the second set, with Davidovich Fokina taking the set to a tiebreak in the hopes of evening up the match at one set apiece. Tsitsipas, however, was dominant in the tiebreak, staying calm as he sealed the second set and the victory. 

Though the match ended in a loss for Davidovich Fokina, his results in Monte Carlo were not all disappointing. He is now ranked at a career high of No. 27 in the world after having started the tournament ranked No. 46. The Spaniard demonstrated his skill and tenacity on court in taking down Djokovic, along with Fritz and Dimitrov, on his path to the final. 

On the other side of the court, the win made Tsitsipas the first player to win repeat Monte Carlo titles since Nadal in 2018, and became the only other active player apart from Nadal to have won two consecutive Monte Carlo titles. Nadal, of course, has been unbelievably successful at the tournament in the past, winning an Open-Era record of eight successive titles in Monte Carlo from 2005 to 2012 and holding 11 titles at the event overall. 

The victory further cements Tsitsipas as a threat on clay, marking him as one of the strongest contenders for this year’s French Open. The Greek player will likely hope to match his performance from last year, when he made it to the final of Roland Garros but was ultimately taken down by Djokovic after being two sets up on the Serbian. The match was Tsitsipas’ first Grand Slam final, and the Greek player had seemed strong as he sealed the first two sets until Djokovic somehow engaged an unbelievable comeback to force the match all the way to five sets and eventually win his 19th major. 

This year, Tsitsipas will certainly want to make it back to the final and have another chance to win his first Grand Slam. Nadal’s current absence from the ATP tour just as the clay season is gaining steam has certainly removed one major obstacle that the rest of the players will have to face. However, it is yet to be seen whether Tsitsipas will emerge as the strongest player on clay while Nadal is off the court. 

Ahead of the 2022 French Open, which is slated to be held in Paris from Sunday, May 22 to Sunday, June 5, the ATP tour still has major clay tournaments coming up in Barcelona, Madrid, and Rome. With Nadal still away from the tour due to his rib injury, the draw at each of these events is wide open for whichever player can step up and make a dream run, like Davidovich Fokina did in Monte Carlo. 

The first of those tournaments is the Barcelona Open, which will run from Monday, April 18 to Sunday, April 24 and give Tsitsipas a chance to compound on his win in Monte Carlo. Especially after last year’s final in Barcelona, when Nadal won a record-extending 12th title by defeating Tsitsipas in a 6–4, 6–7(6–8), 7–5 victory, the Greek player will want to improve upon his 2021 defeat in Barcelona and build on his success in Monte Carlo. 

While Nadal works on fully recovering and being able to return to the tour for Roland Garros, Djokovic will also surely be trying to gain as much playing time as possible as he attempts to catch up to Nadal’s record of the most men’s single’s Grand Slams in history with 21 majors. Djokovic is currently playing at the Serbia Open, which is running from Sunday, April 17 to Sunday, April 24, and will need to find some way to return to court in a much better form than he displayed in Monte Carlo if he wants to be sufficiently prepared for the second Grand Slam of the year. 

Jiyu Shin can be reached at

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