Tsitsipas retains Monte Carlo title as Davidovich Fokina hits career high

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World number five Stefanos Tsitsipas set his sights on rising to the very top of the tennis ladder after joining a select band of players to win back-to-back crowns at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The 23-year-old third seed beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 7-6 on Sunday to collect his eighth title.

As well as a runners-up cheque for 460,000 euros, Davidovich Fokina shot up 19 places to a career high of 27 in the ATP world rankings which are published on Monday. Tsitsipas, who will be top seed at this week's Barcelona Open, will remain at five.

"I am very proud of myself," Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview. "Things weren’t going well at one point but I managed to stay composed to finish the match off.

"I am really proud with the belief I put in my game. Sometimes you doubt yourself but it is always important to keep your head high."

Tsitsipas served for the match at 5-4 but fluffed his lines to allow Davidovich Fokina to level at 5-5.

But he swept through the subsequent tiebreak seven points to three to lift his fourth title on clay courts.

Aim high

"My goal ever since I realised that clay is my better surface is that if I'm able to score points on it as much as I can and then really concentrate on the other surfaces a bit more, I can really pull off a great year, maybe even finishing among the two best tennis players at the end of the season."

The 94-minute victory on Court Rainier III propelled Tsitsipas into an illustrious group of men to retain the first major clay court tournament of the season.

Ilie Nastase won three on the trot between 1971 and 1973. Bjorn Borg held sway in 1979 and 1980 and Thomas Muster pulled off a double in 1995 and '96.

Juan Carlos Ferrero - who is coaching the Spanish wunderkind Carlos Alcaraz - won in 2002 and '03.

Since then Rafael Nadal has effectively annexed the cup with eight consecutive wins between 2005 and 2012 and another three between 2016 and 2018.

Such astounding exploits have helped Nadal to become the most successful player on clay courts with 62 titles - including 13 at the most prestigious of them all at the French Open in Paris.

Tsitsipas lost in the 2021 final in Paris to Novak Djokovic who was one of Davidovich Fokina's victims on his way to his first final at a Masters tournament which are considered just below the four Grand slam competitions in terms of allure.

'It has been an amazing experience," Davidovich Fokina said in his on-court interview.

"I enjoyed every day, winning big matches. Beating Djokovic and players who are at the height of their careers."

"To hear the people supporting me was amazing. I was at the bench thinking: 'Wow, what a moment'."

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