Davidovich Fokina Reaches Maiden ATP Tour Final
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina continued his dream run at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters Saturday, downing Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-3 to reach his first ATP Tour final.
The Spaniard arrived in Monte Carlo with a 4-9 record on the season, having earned just one Top 100 win in 2022. However, the World No. 46 has produced a string of impressive performances this week, combining quality with grit to earn standout victories over World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Indian Wells champ Taylor Fritz, Marcos Giron, David Goffin and now Dimitrov.
Competing in his maiden ATP Masters 1000 semi-final, a pumped-up Davidovich Fokina recovered from squandering a 5-3 lead in the second set as he rose to the occasion in the decider in front of a lively crowd on Court Rainier III. The 22-year-old blasted his groundstrokes with consistent depth, successfully targeted Dimitrov’s backhand and rallied from a break down in the third set to triumph after two hours and 42 minutes.
“I am so, so happy to be in the final. It is a dream come true,” Davidovich Fokina said in his on-court interview. “When I was a kid I was dreaming about this day. It is a dream and I am so happy. The second set I had my chances, but I didn’t play very well. I was so tight and he just put the ball in. The tie-break was also tight. But I went to the bathroom and said that I want this win.”
Davidovich Fokina, who reached the last eight in Monte Carlo in 2021, will be aiming to win his first tour-level title when he faces second seed Alexander Zverev or reigning champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final. He was 0-3 in tour-level semi-finals heading into his match with Dimitrov, but changed that record with his proactive display to earn the biggest win of his career.
The 22-year-old broke Dimitrov five times and looked to open up the court as he hit an array of angles to pull the Bulgarian around. With his hard-fought victory, Davidovich Fokina now leads Dimitrov 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, having also defeated the former World No. 3 on clay in Rome last year.
“He started the second set well and had the chances to break me again for 3-0. But that hold gave me power to keep pushing,” Davidovich Fokina said. “Now I am in the final I will enjoy it and try my best.”
The Spaniard made a fast start as he showcased his current confidence levels with an all-court display in the first set. Davidovich Fokina crushed his groundstrokes with heavy topspin to move 3-1 ahead as he earned an early break. According to Infosys ATP Stats, the World No. 46 did not face a break point in the opener and sealed the set when Dimitrov could only hit a forehand long when pinned deep behind the baseline.
The 30-year-old responded quickly at the start of the second set, though, as Davidovich Fokina’s intensity slightly dropped. However, from 2-0 up, Dimitrov started to hit his backhands short again, which allowed Davidovich Fokina to gain the upper hand in rallies and dictate. The Spaniard won four straight games, but from 5-4 he was unable to serve out the match as nerves appeared to impact his ball striking. Dimitrov then played the more aggressive tennis in the tie-break to force a decider.
Fueled with confidence, Dimitrov looked as if he was heading for the finish line when he moved 2-0 ahead in the third set. But crucially, Davidovich Fokina saved four break points at 0-2, including one with an underarm serve. His hold changed the momentum of the match once again, with the Spaniard winning six of the next seven games to triumph.
“Since preseason in December, we worked very hard to have moment like this,” Davidovich Fokina added. “From the beginning of this season I had a lot of matches that I could have won but I lost them.
“I just continued to keep believing to keep pushing. Doesn’t matter about the results. I am just enjoying every moment and playing every ball.”
Dimitrov was playing in his second semi-final in Monte Carlo, having enjoyed a run to the last four in 2018. The World No. 29, who upset fourth seed Casper Ruud earlier this week, is an eight-time tour-level titlist. However, the 30-year-old has not lifted a trophy since he clinched the Nitto ATP Finals crown in London in 2017.