Karatsev Proves Tsitsipas Wrong In Monte-Carlo
In Stefanos Tsitsipas’ pre-tournament press conference, the Greek predicted his second-round opponent at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters would be Lorenzo Musetti.
Aslan Karatsev proved the Greek wrong on Monday with a 6-3, 6-4 victory against the #NextGenATP Italian in a rain-interrupted first-round clash on Court Rainier III. Karatsev started the match quickly to establish an immediate break, but his momentum was halted at 4-3 in the opener by a rain delay which lasted more than four hours.
When the players returned to the court, Karatsev claimed back-to-back games to take the first set. The Dubai champion saved all four break points he faced and imposed his aggressive game style throughout the 88-minute match. In an impressive final game, Karatsev neutralised Musetti’s serve with deep returns and fired a cross-court backhand, his 23rd winner of the day, to seal the win.
“It was a really tough match [for] my first match of the season on clay [with] tough weather conditions,” said Karatsev. “We started in the morning [and] I started pretty well, I broke him and then the court was getting heavy, the ball was heavy. It is tough to play against him. [He is] really fit, [he] runs a lot and gives everything back, so you have to build the point by yourself and close the point by yourself.”
Karatsev is making his first appearance at an ATP Tour clay-court event this week. The 27-year-old, who owns two ATP Challenger Tour titles on the surface, will face Tsitsipas for the first time in the second round. Karatsev holds a 2-2 record against Top 10 players this year, with wins against Diego Schwartzman and Andrey Rublev.
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina upset Alex de Minaur 6-4, 7-6(3) to book a second-round encounter with eighth seed Matteo Berrettini. The Spaniard saved six of the eight break points he faced to level his ATP Head2Head rivalry against the Aussie at 1-1.
John Millman claimed four service breaks to beat Frenchman Ugo Humbert 6-3, 6-3. The 31-year-old will meet the winner between Felix Auger-Aliassime and Cristian Garin, which was suspended on Monday evening due to rain, with Auger-Aliassime leading 4-2 in the opening set.
Did You Know?
Musetti and Karatsev have made the biggest improvements of any players in the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings since last August. Musetti has soared 196 spots from No. 280 to No. 84, while Karatsev has risen 165 positions from No. 194 to No. 29.