Davidovich Fokina Soars Into First Masters 1000 SF
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina broke new ground Friday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, overcoming 10th seed Taylor Fritz 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.
The Spaniard upset World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the second round and he demonstrated high levels of confidence against Fritz on Court Rainier III to further back up that win, after also eliminating Marrakech champion David Goffin in the third round.
The 22-year-old played with great intensity as he struck his groundstrokes with width to pull Fritz around the court. Davidovich Fokina consistently engaged the crowd throughout with his shotmaking and fist-pumping, advancing after two hours and 24 minutes.
“I am so, so happy,” Davidovich Fokina said in his on-court interview. “Last year I reached the quarter-finals. The emotions to be in the semi-finals are so high. I am enjoying every point. In the first set I had a lot of chances to break but I didn’t do it. But I just stayed focused and believed in myself.”
The World No. 46 now leads Fritz 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series and will next face 2018 semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov or 11th seed Hubert Hurkacz in the last four.
Davidovich Fokina has a strong record at the clay-court event, having defeated Top 10 star Matteo Berrettini en route to the quarter-finals last season. Earlier this year he enjoyed a run to the quarter-finals in Doha, but arrived in Monte Carlo off the back of three straight defeats.
“When you beat the World No. 1 it gives you a lot of confidence physically, mentally and technically,” Davidovich Fokina added. “I am pushing myself every match to play harder and harder.”
Despite the scoreline, the first set was a close affair, with Fritz playing better in the key moments as he fended off all five break points. The American did struggle with a problem with his lower left ab, but it didn’t impact his level as he crushed forehands and demonstrated great touch around the net to move ahead.
Davidovich Fokina came roaring back in the second set though, stepping deep behind the baseline to take heavy cuts at the ball as he powered his shots with fierce accuracy. The Spaniard finally broke in the ninth game before he levelled the match on his first set point, letting out a scream in delight.
The Spaniard continued to put his foot down in the second set as he looked the fresher of the two, dominating the longer exchanges to triumph.
Fritz ended Rafael Nadal’s unbeaten start to the season to lift his maiden Masters 1000 trophy in Indian Wells in March and transferred his strong hard-court form onto the clay this week at the Monte Carlo Country Club.
The 24-year-old defeated wild card Lucas Catarina, Croatian Marin Cilic and countryman Sebastian Korda to become the first American to reach the last eight in Monte Carlo since Sam Querrey in 2008.