Andrey Rublev has never won a Masters 1000. This year’s Monte-Carlo Masters might prove to be his best chance as he will face hungry 19-year-old Holger Rune in the final.
Rublev impressed in a victory over Taylor Fritz in the semifinals of the clay-court event, making a 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 comeback. Rublev stepped up his effort in returning and won 56% of the American’s second-serve points. He will now look to reach a height he failed to in 2021’s final – winning the Monte-Carlo Masters.
The brash Rublev lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in that edition of the final, an event that marked the Greek’s first Masters 1000 title. However, unlike the 2021 final, Rublev did not have to expend effort earlier in the tournament by fighting through Rafael Nadal.
Rublev has won three career clay court titles and has overall performed successfully on the surface, impressive considering his power-brand of tennis. Before this tournament, he had won ATP 500 tournament Hamburg and had exhibited consistency on hard courts, making quarterfinals of four of the past six hard court majors.
In 2023 Monte-Carlo, Rublev knocked off countryman Karen Khachanov and the aforementioned Fritz before beating Rune in the semifinal. Rublev impressed to the tune of 21 break point chances in Saturday’s semifinal and gave himself an opportunity for redemption against recent upstart Holger Rune in Sunday’s final.
Rune was the victor of an all-together shocking 2022 Paris Masters tournament where he beat Djokovic in the final 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, keyed by serving out a nervous final game. The Danish pro had never previously won an event higher than the 200-level.
Rune prevailed in a tense semifinal matchup against powerful Italian Jannik Sinner, winning 1-6, 7-5, 7-5. He won fewer total points in the match – an interesting quirk that tennis can provide – but generated seven more breakpoints than the Italian and willed his way to victory.
Sinner has not won a Masters 1000 at this stage yet either, and after Lorenzo Musetti upset No. 1 Novak Djokovic, tennis writers said this may be his best opportunity to date in winning at the highest level. Rune instead upset Sinner in three exciting sets with back-and-forth tennis.
Perhaps one key in Rune’s victory over Sinner Saturday was that he was able to force his returns deep into the serving court. Rune consistently won the depth battle on court and his compact groundstrokes allowed him to win 13 more return points than his opponent.
The tilt between Denmark’s finest and Russia’s battering ram will prove to be about control versus power. It will also be the first time a player from Russia or Denmark will win the tournament.
This year’s Monte-Carlo final will provide a lot of intrigue as it will either be Rublev’s redemption – and first Masters 1000 trophy – or Rune’s stamp as a future wunderkind.