Stefanos Tsitsipas: Monte Carlo 2022 Recap
This week in Monte Carlo, Stef defended his Masters 1000 title and changed the complexion of his year. While he had a solid start to the year, he hadn’t won a title and was entering the clay season with an enormous amount of points to defend. Winning this title, especially in the fashion he did, is a year-defining week. His all court game, serve +1 attacking and explosive movement were all on display.
Review the highs and lows of a – you guessed it – dramatic week in the life of Stefans Tsitsipas:
The New Outfit
Before he started his making waves with his game, Stef debuted a controversial new look from Adidas. The opinions online were mixed, but I personally loved the look. And I liked it even more when I saw the other players’ versions, particularly his Greek counterpart Maria Sakkari.
In his first match, he faced another one of best-looking players on tour, resident hot head Fabio Fognini. Naturally there was a bit of drama (Fabio unsurprisingly complained about Stef’s box). But none of the drama involved the tennis, at Stef breezed to a 6-3, 6-0 victory.
Next up was Laslo Djere. After handily beating a former Monte Carlo champion and terrific clay court player so easily in his first match, Stef went in as the heavy favorite against the Serbian ranked 62 in the world. It wasn’t his best performance: He overcame inconsistent play to win 7-6, 7-5 (1). Win and get through, right?
This is where the drama really started. Which Stef would show up for quarterfinal match against the always tough grinder, Diego Schwartzman? It turns out both. The match would turn into one of the most topsy-turvy affairs of the year. It set up an electric atmosphere that showed the best and worst of both players.
The match gave us more than ups and downs. In a span of mere minutes, Stef gave us two moments that explain why we look at him as one of the most entertaining players on either tour.
First, after fighting back in the third set. Stef was serving for the match, and you guessed it, the game was long and dramatic. At deuce, Stef hit one of the best shots of the year to set up match point. Even though he lost the next point, he would win the match a few points later.
But let’s admire this SHOT:
Then, minutes later, Stef was interviewed and was asked about what happened. His response was classic Stef:
Wait, there’s more? Yep, all of that just got him into the semi-finals. It was already a good showing for the defending champion. Next up was one of his biggest rivals, fellow NextGen-er Alexander Zverev. The two have had a history of small barbs, and Zverev has been embroiled in much more serious controversies off the court.
Another big consideration: Zverev has a chance of overtaking #1 in the world in the coming weeks. Winning this title would put him within striking distance. Just 16 hours after his marathon quarterfinal win, Stef took the court.
Would he be tired? Nervous? Emotionally drained? Surely he was, but you wouldn’t know from his play. Stef put on a masterclass, showing his superior serve, heavy forehand, ability to move into the net and even some beautiful slice backhands.
He took out Zverev with ease: 6-4, 6-2. Given his last 24 hours, it was surely a welcome sight for Stef and his fans.
In the final, Stef again went into the match as the favorite. His opponent? 22-year old Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. The young Spaniard had a career week, making it to his first ATP tour level final. He earned wins over world #1 Djokovic, recent Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz and crowd-favorite Grigor Dimitrov along the way.
He also made a rare admission: Using the bathroom break as a way to center himself after a tough moment on tour. Given how much has been made of Stef’s bathroom breaks, it was surprising it didn’t make more waves.
Finals Sunday – Easter Sunday no less – was buzzing in one of the most beautiful settings on the ATP tour. The crowd was ready for a battle. The first set and a half lacked drama, with Stef leading 6-3, 2-0 without much resistance. The second set got closer though, with the crowd roaring Fokina back into the match. In the end, Stef’s mental and physical toughness came through yet again, and he took the title 6-3, 7-6.
In a week ending on Easter Sunday, the self-described “Greek God” rose to the occasion (sorry for that, it was too easy). Stef once again showed why he’s always a tournament favorite, especially on the clay. Where does he go from here? We know one thing: It will be an entertaining ride.