Novak Djokovic will not win the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters in 2023. The Serbian champion has been eliminated by Italian Lorenzo Musetti, who controlled the game after a rain break. He will now meet his compatriot Jannik Sinner in an all-Italian quarter final.
This result is the major upset of this year’s edition. Djokovic struggled a lot and was broken on his service eight times. He started well enough to win the first set (6-4), but then lost control over the match and his nerves because of some disputable errors by the umpire and the windy conditions. The 21 year-old Musetti, supported by many Italians, sensationally took the second set with 7-5. In the third set the match was interrupted because of rain at 1-1 and after the resumption Musetti was the first to break Djokovic’s serve. He kept this advantage but needed four match points (at 5-4 on his service) to finish the job: 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.
“It’s always a gift to play against Djokovic but when I’m on the clay I’ll do everything I can to win,” he announced on Wednesday when he had beaten his compatriot Luca Nardi 6-0, 6-0. Last year he reached the 1/8 finals at Roland Garros.
He will meet Jannik Sinner in the quarter final. The rising star of Italian tennis had a narrow escape in his match with Hubert Hurckacz. The Pole was initially the better player and provided a surprise by winning the first set (6-3). In the second set, he failed to capitalise on a match point and lost it after a tiebreak (8-6). In the third set Sinner recovered strongly and took the set and match with 6-1.
After the match Sinner said on the court: “It was from the start a tough match and honestly Hubert played better for a set and a half. The match really changed for me when I saved the match point. I am lucky to be still in the tournament but the Italian crowd helped me a lot and gave me the energy I needed when it became tough for me.”
Titleholder Stefanos Tsitsipas is on his way to win the tournament for the third time in a row and recorded his twelfth consecutive victory at this tournament against Chilean Nicolas Jerry (6-3, 6-4) in 93 minutes. He will now meet Taylor Fritz. The American needed three sets to beat Jiri Lehecka after losing the first set: 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. Another surprise of the day was the victory of Jan Lennard Struff over Casper Ruud in two sets: 6-1, 7-6. The German qualifier had a great start and won the first set with 6-1. The world number-4 from Norway tried to fight back but also lost the second set in a tiebreak: 8-6.
In the quarter-final Struff will meet the Russian Andrey Rublev, who had to beat his doubles partner Karen Khachanov. Rublev won the first set on a tiebreak (7-4) and then made the difference in the second set (6-2). ‘We know each other too well. The first set was only mental. We didn’t show some tennis skills,” Rublev said. “But it was tough to show skills because the wind was really hard and the court was slippery and it was tough to do something. The first set was super mental. As soon as I was able to win a set, I started to feel more free and I felt Karen felt more down, so that was the difference.”
PHOTO: Italians in the crowd Jurriaan van Wessem