SF Preview: Zverev Faces Defending Champ Tsitsipas
After all four singles quarter-finals went the distance on a Friday for the ages at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, the marathon victors return for more in Saturday’s semi-finals. The two highest-seeded players remaining are set to square off as defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas takes on Alexander Zverev, but not before unseeded opponents Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Grigor Dimitrov trade blows on Court Rainier III.
Doubles play also moves exclusively to the Monte Carlo Country Club’s show court for the semi-finals, with top seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury seeking to maintain their perfect set record on the week and claim their first ATP Tour title of the 2022 season.
 Alexander Zverev (GER) vs.  Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)
Both Zverev and Tsitsipas mounted thrilling comebacks to reach the last four. Zverev was down a set and a break against fan favourite Jannik Sinner, then twice led by a break in the final set before taking a nerve-wracking tie-break to advance, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(5). The German is through to his second semi-final on the season and his second in Monte Carlo.
“It means a lot, definitely, especially [with] how this year has been going so far for me,” said Zverev after his marathon win. “I’ve lost long matches like that, so I’m happy I won this one.”
Zverev is seeking to complete the triple crown of clay-court ATP Masters 1000 titles, having triumphed in Madrid twice and Rome once. He can close to within 235 ATP Ranking points of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic with the Monaco title, and can gain significant ground on injured World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev as well.
Tsitsipas, defending 1,000 points as last year’s champion, was two games from defeat in his quarter-final against Diego Schwartzman. After leading, 6-2, 5-2, he dropped a 3/7 tie-break and fell behind 0-4 in the final set before sweeping the final six games to close out an epic day of tennis in Monte Carlo.
The World No. 5 Greek holds a 6-3 edge over Zverev in their ATP Head2Head series, including a 2-0 mark on clay, but the German has taken two of their past three meetings. Each of their past two matchups went the distance in 2021, with Tsitsipas winning a five-set semi-final at Roland Garros and Zverev taking a third-set tie-break at the same stage of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
After reaching the Monte Carlo quarter-finals for the second straight year, Davidovich Fokina broke new ground with his 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over 10th seed Taylor Fritz. Also a Roland Garros quarter-finalist in 2021, the 22-year-old Spaniard is through to his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.
“I am so, so happy,” Davidovich Fokina said after knocking out the American Indian Wells champion. “Last year I reached the quarter-finals. The emotions to be in the semi-finals are so high. I am enjoying every point.”
Davidovich Fokina kickstarted his run by upsetting Novak Djokovic in the second round, the opening match of the tournament for the Serb.
“When you beat the World No. 1 it gives you a lot of confidence physically, mentally and technically,” the Spaniard reflected. “I am pushing myself every match to play harder and harder.”
Dimitrov is competing in his eighth ATP Masters 1000 semi-final and seeking a second title at that level following his 2017 Cincinnati triumph. The Bulgarian opened the 2022 ATP Tour season by reaching the semi-finals at the Melbourne ATP 250 event, and reached the Indian Wells quarter-finals in March.
Following victories against 15th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili (first round), fourth seed Casper Ruud (third round) and 11th seed Hubert Hurkacz (quarter-finals), Dimitrov will face his second unseeded opponent of the week on Saturday. Like Zverev, the Bulgarian won a third-set tie-break to reach the last four, downing Hurkacz, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2).
“I am just going one day at a time,” the veteran said of his approach at his first clay-court event of the season. “I’ve put in the work — that’s all I’ve done. I’m not even thinking of how I’m playing or anything like that, I just want to [do] a lot of work. The season on clay is not that long so you just want to keep on building, and that’s all I’m doing right now.”
Dimitrov is the oldest of the four quarter-finalists at 30, with Zverev the next-oldest at 24.
A pair of British doubles stars will square off in the opening match of the day, as World No. 1 Joe Salisbury and longtime partner Rajeev Ram face former No. 1 Jamie Murray and Rohan Bopanna. The British-Indian duo are competing in their first ATP Tour event as a team, while Salisbury and the USA’s Ram seek their sixth title together.
The top seeds have dropped just 12 games in two matches en route to the semi-finals. By contrast, Murray and Bopanna won a pair of Match Tie-breaks to open their campaign, then edged third seeds Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers, 7-6(8), 7-6(8), in the quarters.
Sixth-seeded Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah will take on eighth seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer in the day’s second semi-final, which will close out the evening’s play in Monaco.
SATURDAY, APRIL 16 – SCHEDULE
COURT RAINIER III start 11:30 am
 R. Ram (USA / J. Salisbury (GBR) vs. R. Bopanna (IND) / J. Murray (GBR)
Not before 1:30 pm
A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP) vs. G. Dimitrov (BUL)
Not before 3:30 pm
 A. Zverev (GER) vs.  S. Tsitsipas (GRE)
 J. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) vs.  M. Arevalo (ESA) / J. Rojer (NED)