Master of the Court: Stefanos Tsitsipas Wins 2021 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters
The twists and turns of the 2021 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters culminated in a victory for the 22-year-old Greek, with shock early exits from Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal along the way!
Sunday 18th April 2021 saw the crowning of a new tennis Masters champion: 22-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, current World No. 5. The young Greek secured his first ATP Masters 1000 title among rows of empty green seats with a 6-3, 6-3 victory against 23-year-old Russian sixth seed Andrey Rublev.
The pair faced one another last month in Rotterdam, with Rublev beating Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6(2). With this weekend’s win in his pocket, Tsitsipas now leads Rublev 4-3 in their ATP head-to-head series, including two clay-court meetings (1-1) in 2020 at Roland Garros and the Hamburg European Open.
Tsitsipas has become the second member of his family to have his name engraved in the marble of the prestigious Monte-Carlo Country Club, skidding over the same clay courts as his mother, Julia Salnikova, who won the junior title in Monaco 40 years ago representing the Soviet Union.
The 'Young Guns' Tournament
The gleaming triumph of the young Greek symbolises a budding new generation of elite tennis players with the verve and boldness to take on the sport’s biggest veterans. In a surprising turn of events, the 114th Rolex Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters saw the wind of fresh young talent, including Brit Daniel Evans, sweep away such competition as World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and 11-time champion Rafael Nadal, knocked out by Evans and Rublev respectively in the quarter-finals.
Before the face-off with Tsitsipas, Rublev went head to head with Nadal, trailing him 0-2, then 'fearlessly eliminated' him on Court Rainier III, the same court where the Spaniard has lifted a record 11 trophies in the Principality. “I don’t even know what to say. I cannot imagine being in the situation of Rafa, knowing that you are the best player on clay and you have that pressure every time,” Rublev said in his post-match interview. “I think for him it must be incredibly tough every time. I am in shock [with] the way he is playing under this pressure and that is why he is a legend.”
Nadal admitted that he was hoping for a better start to the clay season. “Always sad to lose here because it's an important place for me. And I was hoping for a different result but I cannot complain. When you face such a great player, if you don’t play well, you lose. Today my serve was a disaster and when you serve badly, it has an impact on the rest of the game.”
Director Zeljko Franulovic described the young victories as 'a wind of renewal on world tennis' and in the 'intergenerational matches,' youth had 'left its mark.' He went on to say: "Thanks to their athletic, technical and mental qualities, and thanks to their fearlessness, they were able this week to overcome the experience and mastery of Novak Djokovic (World No. 1) and Rafael Nadal (No. 3). They let themselves be impressed by their elders’ brilliant carrier and succeeded in jostling the hierarchy thanks to their recklessness and aggressiveness on the court”.
This edition of the Rolex Masters of Monte Carlo was marked by tributes to two very special people that are no longer with us. On Thursday 17 April, the tournament featured British players in both the singles and doubles semi-finals along with the organisers who paid tribute to the late Prince Philip by flying the Union Jack at half-mast.
HSH Prince Albert II also paid tribute to the Baroness Elizabeth-Ann de Massy, who tirelessly worked for the development and outreach of the M.C.C.C., of the Rolex Masters of Monte-Carlo and of the Monaco Tennis Federation. Surrounded by Ms Melanie-Antoinette de Massy, the new President, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the Prince unveiled a plaque in the memory of an exceptional President who will remain in the Monegasque tennis legend.
The 114th edition was full of surprises. While the stands may have remained empty, the intergenerational clashes and unexpected early departures from the competition provided a vicarious thrill to tennis fans in more than 113 countries across the world, broadcast on 53 channels. Director Zeljko Franulovic hopes that next year, spectators will return to see the famous sunset-orange clay of the Monte-Carlo Country Club with their own eyes: “The dates are now fixed for next year, and we hope that all the tennis fans will be able to experience the thrill of watching their favourite players inside the venue of the Monte-Carlo Country Club once again,” he said.