The People

Andrey Rublev finally wins his first major title at Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

April 17, 2023
Andrey Rublev finally wins his first major title at Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

Andrey Rublev clinched his first ATP Masters 1000 title on Sunday when he overcame teenager Holger Rune 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

In a clash between two of the biggest ball-strikers on the ATP Tour, it was the fifth seed who prevailed on a sunbathed Court Rainier III. Rublev struck 33 winners and rallied from 1-4 in the third set to earn the 13th and biggest title of his career after two hours and 34 minutes. Rublev sealed victory with his fifth ace of the match, dropping to the floor in celebration.

“I have tears,” Rublev said. “I don’t know what to say. I am so happy. I have been struggling so much to win a Masters 1000 tournament. Trailing 1-4, 0/30, then saving break points, thinking there is no chance to win. But somehow I did it.”

With his 18th tour-level win of the season, Rublev improved to 1-2 in ATP Masters 1000 finals, having lost against Stefanos Tsitsipas in Monte-Carlo and Alexander Zverev in Cincinnati in 2021.

“I was hoping deep inside that I would have one chance,” Rublev said. “Play until the end. I remember the previous finals and when I was losing I thought I’d have no luck and mentally I was going down. But today I thought, ‘Just believe until the end’, and this is what I was trying to do in the third set, hoping I would have an extra chance to come back and what a way to do it.”

The 25-year-old, who clawed past American Taylor Fritz in the semi-finals, has climbed seven spots to fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin following his first tour-level title of the season.

The 19-year-old Rune was aiming to clinch his second ATP Masters 1000 crown after defeating five Top 10 opponents en route to the title in Paris last year. The Dane will now head to the ATP 250 event in Munich, where he is the defending champion, holding a 17-8 record on the season. Rune was the first teenager to reach the final in Monte-Carlo since a then-19-year-old Rafael Nadal lifted the trophy in 2006.

The sixth seed is up two spots to No. 7 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following the run to his first final of the year.

With Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc watching on, both players made a fast start to the first Masters 1000 clay-court final of the season. Rune and Rublev both looked to take large cuts at the ball with their aggressive groundstrokes, with the former using the drop shot in the first set effectively to disrupt Rublev’s rhythm.

The Dane, who sunk Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals, saved seven of the eight break points he faced in the first set, frustrating Rublev before breaking the fifth seed in the 12th game of the set to lead.

Rublev was quick to respond in the second set, though. He won 90 per cent (9/10) of his first-serve points and was more clinical in the big moments on return, forcing Rune deep with his power to break twice and level.

The Dane raced into a 3-0 lead in the third set, hitting with fierce accuracy on return to gain the initiative. However, from 1-4, Rublev worked his way back into the match. He fended off two break points at 1-4 and then clawed himself level with aggressive hitting. At 5-5, Rune gifted Rublev the decisive break when he struck a double fault at 30/40. Rublev then closed out on serve to improve to 2-1 in his ATP Head2Head series against Rune.

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