MONTE CARLO (Reuters) – Defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas showed no signs of fatigue following Friday’s marathon battle as he eased past German Alexander Zverev 6-4 6-2 to reach the Monte Carlo Masters final on Saturday.
Tsitsipas and Zverev had both survived three-hour tussles on Friday to reach the last four but it was the Greek third seed who appeared to have made a quick recovery as he tormented a lethargic Zverev with a barrage of baseline winners.
Tsitsipas, who has now won all three of his claycourt matches against Zverev, will take on surprise finalist Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Sunday’s showdown.
The Spaniard, who will contest his first singles final on the ATP tour, beat Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-7(2) 6-3 in a see-saw clash earlier on Saturday.
All eyes, however, were on the Tsitsipas v Zverev clash.
Tsitsipas, last year’s French Open runner-up, was twice up a break in the opening set but allowed Zverev to steal his serve back in the third and ninth games.
The Greek eventually sealed the set on the German’s serve with a perfect slice.
Tsitsipas dominated the second set from the baseline and grabbed a decisive break to move 4-2 up when Zverev’s forehand sailed long.
He won the following game to love before breaking again with a blistering passing shot to wrap up the match in just 75 minutes.
The first semi was a much tighter affair.
Davidovich Fokina, whose best performances are two Challengers titles in 2019, won five of his six break points while Dimitrov failed to convert seven of his 10 opportunities as he set up a replay of last year’s quarter-final in the principality.
A Dimitrov double fault gave the 22-year-old Davidovich Fokina the first break of the match in the third game and the Spaniard held serve to bag the opening set.
The Bulgarian was more precise early in the second set to open a 2-0 lead but he quickly lost his focus again as his opponent won four games in a row to move closer to a straight-set victory.
Serving for the match at 5-3, though, he crumbled under pressure and allowed Dimitrov back into the contest, with the Bulgarian winning the tiebreak easily.
The decider was another test of nerves as Dimitrov collapsed after winning the first two games, losing five in a row to put Davidovich Fokina on the brink of victory again.
This time, the Spaniard kept his composure and prevailed on his second match point.
(The final will be played at 14:30 on the Rainier III court)
Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris and Pritha Sarkar
PHOTO: Davidovich Fokina celebrates his win Denis Balibouse Reuters