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Takeaways from the Monte-Carlo Masters

by GP
Djokovic Monte Carlo

And just like that, the first clay Masters tournament of the 2024 season is already in the rear mirror. As players are moving on to Barcelona and Munich, let’s take a second to reflect on what happened and what we can take away for the remainder of the clay season.

Tsitsipas is all the way back, is he?

There were quite a few experts in the tennis world that were questioning Stefanos Tsitsipas coming into Monaco, but the big Greek seems to have found his game once again. Granted, the Monte Carlo Masters has historically been a very good tournament for him, but his showings were nothing short of brilliant at times.

He took down Djere and Etcheverry early in speed up mode, before he almost handed Zverev a bagel in their Round of 16 encounter. Tsitsipas went on to beat an in-form Khachanov, the player of the year Sinner and Casper Ruud in the final, all while just losing one set. His forehand and serve seem to be as good as ever and his backhand looked way more solid than in the spring hardcourt swing. So is Stefanos Tsitsipas now the player to beat on the clay?

tsitsipas win monte carlo

Consider me only halfway convinced. Of course, he seems to be back in form on his maybe favorite surface of the year, but can one week outshine a year full of struggles and inconsistency? And it should not go unmentioned that some of his opponents seemed to be far from their peak – Zverev struggled, Sinner seemed physically limited and Ruud in bigger finals is another story to tell.

So for me, this was the first step for Stefanos to be back in contention, but Madrid and Rome will tell us where he stands really.

Djoker faithful – do we seem to be in trouble?

This seems like a bit of an overreaction, given that Djokovic reached the semis and played some pretty decent matches. But it feels like this would have been a tournament, where a couple of years ago, Novak would have come back and obliterated the field. He had time to prepare for the clay, he skipped the Miami tournament and seemed dialed in for another record-breaking Masters win.

But something just seems off from the Djokovic that we have known for years now. He seems genuinely concerned with his level at times, physically he struggles in the long three setters that made him famous and he more and more keeps on getting angry at fans. Maybe most emblematic for this, Novak missed a wide-open volley in the decisive game against Ruud, that he regularly would have made with ease.

Maybe it’s just a fluke, he will win Rome with ease, and we will see his 25th Slam this year. But we might also seem to be nearing the end of his reign, with him losing to players like Ruud in tight matches. One thing is for sure though, you should never rule out the Goat (yes, I’ve said it).

What’s with Casper and big finals?

3 Grand Slam finals, 2 Masters 1000 finals and 1 ATP Year End Final – that sounds like you should have won at least one of those titles, right? Casper Ruud was in all those games, and he still has zero big titles. Granted, if you play Rafa in Paris, Novak anywhere or an inspired Carlos Alcaraz, it is quite the challenge, but it stands out that his finishing isn’t the best.

In Monte Carlo, he put together an astonishing run, even getting his very first victory against a World No. 1 in Novak Djokovic. He seemed the favorite, as Tsitsipas came off a tough battle with Sinner and hadn’t played his best tennis for months. But in the final, he seemed tame, was lacking depth of his forehand and did not even come close to endangering the Tsitsipas renaissance. 

So even if Casper seems to be up for contention once more, it remains to be seen whether he can actually win a big title this year. With two more masters, Roland Garros and the Olympics on clay, there will be chances. But if it is Casper being too nice, nervous or just unlucky, I still must be convinced that he will close out these chances.

And how about the others?

Of course there are other players, that either showed up or didn’t – let’s have a round of quick-fire ones to close out the Monte Carlo week:

Early Paris favorites: Tsitsipas, Ruud, Sinner (if healthy), Rune

In-Form: De Minaur, Khachanov, Humbert, Musetti

Too early to tell: Djokovic, Medvedev, Zverev, Dimitrov, Hurkacz

Still work to do: Alcaraz, Rublev, Fritz

Clay goats (always dangerous): Rafa ? 

Written by Simon Zeitler

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