Rublev Rallies To Win First Masters 1000 Title

Andrey Rublev (photo: Florian Heer)

MONTE-CARLO/WASHINGTON, April 16, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

Moments after Andrey Rublev secured his first ATP Masters 1000 crown, with a 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 triumph over 19-year-old Holger Rune of Denmark to win the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, the 25-year-old Moscow native broke into a big smile as he lifted the champion’s trophy Sunday afternoon in Monaco. Rublev kept the trophy ceremony on the center of sunbaked Court Rainier III light and lively, albeit at the No. 6 seed Rune’s expense.

The young Danish star, who won his maiden Masters 1000 title after beating World No. 1 Novak Djokovic to win the Paris Masters last year, squandered a 4-1 lead in the final set against the fifth-seed Rublev and lost six of the final seven games of the title match.

“First, I would like to congratulate Holger Rune for the amazing week,” Rublev said in his remarks to the appreciative crowd. His words of praise even made Rune smile. “I know it is tough to lose in a final. But man, you’re too freaking young, man. You already have a 1000 title. At least give me one time to win it!”

In a spirited, two-hour and 34-minute battle of big ball-strikers, who combined to hit 62 winners (30 for Rublev, 32 for Rune), it was Rublev who prevailed in the end to capture his 18th tour-level win of the season and the 13th and biggest title of his career. Also, it offered him some consolation after losing the Monte-Carlo final two years ago to Stefanos Tsitsipas and another Masters 1000 final, against Alexander Zverev, in Cincinnati in 2021.

After hitting his fifth ace of the 207-point tussle on championship point, Rublev fell to the clay court surface and began to celebrate.

“I have tears,” Rublev admitted in a post-match interview with the ATP. “I don’t know what to say to be honest. I don’t know. I am just happy, finally. [I have] been struggling so much to win this freaking Masters 1000 tournament. Finally losing 4-1, Love-30, saving break points, thinking there is no chance to win, and somehow I did it.”

Dodig and Krajicek reign in Monte-Carlo

No. 5 seeds Ivan Dodig of Croatia and American Austin Krajicek won their first ATP Masters 1000 crown together after saving two match points to beat wild cards Romain Arneodo of Monaco and Sam Weissborn of Austria, 6-0, 4-6, 14-12.

“It’s amazing, I think,” Dodig said, quoted by the ATP website. “This is the one I was missing in my collection and I played the final I think in 2014. It’s great. I think every player who plays tennis at a professional level wants to win this tournament. It’s the first tournament on clay, it’s so prestigious and I’m really, really happy to have this trophy.”

Dodig and Krajicek, who have now won five tour-level titles as a team – including two on clay – outpointed their opponents 61-50 during the one-hour and 33-minute final.

“We played great,” Krajicek added. “I mean, obviously being in a beautiful place like this, it’s hard not to feel good. I thought we played good tennis all week. Served well and played well on the big moments. Today, those guys came up with some good stuff in the second set and when there’s tie-breaker it’s always a little bit of a coin flip. So you just never know and it came down to a few points there at the end. Luckily, we were able to get it to go our way today.”

By the numbers 

Throughout the two-hour, 34-minute title match, Andrey Rublev won 74 percent of his first-serve points, hit 30 winners to 23 unforced errors and converted six of 19 break point chances. By comparison, Holger Rune won 71 percent of his first-serve points, hit 32 winners to 49 unforced errors and broke Rublev four times in eight attempts.

En route to the Monte-Carlo title, Rublev compiled victories over Jaume Munar, No. 9 seed Karen Khachanov, qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff, No. 8 seed Taylor Fritz and Rune, whom he had previously split two matches against.

Quotable …

“I was hoping deep inside that at least maybe I would have one chance. Maybe, at least, try to play until the end. Because I remember the previous [Masters 1000]  finals mentally I was not ready and when I was thinking [I had] no chance to win anymore and I was going mentally completely down.

“And today, I was at least [thinking], ‘Okay, if you’re going to lose today, at least please believe until the end,’ and that is what I was trying to do in the third set, hoping that maybe I would have one extra chance to come back or something. And in the end, I was able to do it.”

Andrey Rublev, during his on-court, post-match interview with ATP Media.