Stefanos Tsitsipas has managed to win the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters for the third time in four years. The Greek exceeded his own expectations for this week by beating Alexander Zverev and Jannik Sinner, among others, and was much stronger in Sunday’s final than Norwegian Casper Ruud, who had ensured a sensational victory over Novak Djokovic on Saturday, April 13. Tsitsipas calls this victory the most beautiful of his three in Monaco.

Still, he himself might also think back to the moment when he was able to survive in the semi-final against Sinner due to an error by the umpire.

In the third set of that match, the Italian had a 3-1 lead and a break point to get to a double break. Tsitsipas double-faulted, but the umpire Aurelie Tortue saw the ball end up on the line and not behind it and allowed play to continue, although most of the spectators did disagree with her decision. Tsitsipas won the game and then, as a result of a cramp attack by Sinner, also won the match 6-4 in the third set.

Sinner stated afterwards: “Everyone can make mistakes; I make them too. I couldn’t dwell on it for too long, but it became the breaking point of the whole match. The cramp can also be explained by my mental state after that mistake.” Next year, at the Monte Carlo tournament, there will be a hawk eye-technique to correct such mistakes.

The incident is a small blemish on the final victory of Tsitsipas, who probably escaped elimination after an otherwise scintillating match between two players in top form. Tsitsipas, who started this tournament in twelfth place, was certainly equal to Sinner throughout the match, and then details like this make the difference. He won in three sets; 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, winning the last four games in the final set.

Ruud reached the final by beating the world number 1 in three sets: 6-4, 1-6, 6-4. He struck by breaking in the third set at the moment when the Serb finally thought he could control the match after more than two hours. It was a nice revenge for the Norwegian, who was beaten by Djokovic in the final of Roland Garros last year. Ruud was so overwhelmed by his victory that he had to recover for a few minutes afterwards to realize what he had achieved. He said: “This is a match that I am proud to talk about with my children and grandchildren.”

In any case, he didn’t seem to have recovered mentally on Sunday, because the final got a rather one-sided character. After Ruud won the first game of this final, the Greek won seven games in a row, breaking the Norwegian’s serve three times. That was enough to secure the first set (6-1). The Norwegian himself missed three break chances in the first set and must have experienced the first set as a nightmare after his dream victory over Djokovic.

Tsitsipas played with a lot of confidence and courage. But in the second set, both players were much more evenly matched. Some games were decided after a deuce and the seventh game (on Tsitsipas’ serve) even lasted thirteen minutes, with Ruud not using three break points to get into an advantageous situation. In total, like Tsitsipas, he had eight break chances, but he was unable to convert any of them, while the Greek did so four times. The last time meant the end of the match; 6-1, 6-4.

After his victories in 2021 and 2022, Tsitsipas now takes the top prize of the Monte-Carlo tournament again and returns to the top 10 of the ATP rankings. He had had a tough few months and had a very disappointing performance in 2024. That’s why he came to Monte-Carlo with not very high expectations, although he has the right genes because his mother Julia (Salnikova) Aspostoli won the women’s tournament in Monaco in 1981.

Afterwards, Tsitsipas was very happy, when prince Albert II gave him the cup for the third time; “I have come out of a difficult period and that is why this victory is very important for me. Of the three I’ve achieved here, this one is the most beautiful, because I’ve come a long way, but suddenly I had my old tennis again and I felt liberated to show my best tennis. I’ve played unbelievable this week and I’ve won the trophy.”

Featured image courtesy of REUTERS/Denis Balibouse: Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates with the trophy after winning his final match against Norway’s Casper Ruud