Ruud, Rublev Meet For Spot In Final

A first-time Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion is guaranteed this weekend. After ousting Rafael Nadal, Andrey Rublev will take on unseeded Casper Ruud in the semi-finals on Saturday, following Daniel Evans versus Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Rublev beat Nadal, an 11-time Monte-Carlo champion, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 for his first win over the Spaniard.

He’ll have to recalibrate for his match with Ruud. The World No. 8 leads their ATP Head2Head Series 3-0, with their most recent meeting coming at the Australian Open this year when Ruud retired while down two sets to none.

The 22-year-old Norwegian has enjoyed a stellar week with back-to-back three-set wins over Pablo Carreno Busta and Fabio Fognini. He has stayed level-headed through all of the ups and downs, and has capitalised on his chances by going for his shots on big points, particularly off his forehand side when he can step in and take charge.

Clay suits Ruud very well: All 10 of his Masters 1000 wins have come on clay as have 51 of his 72 tour-level wins (71 per cent).

“It’s a tough match for both of them,” said Nadal. “Casper is a great player. Especially on this surface, he’s one of the best players in the world. [It] will be a tough battle tomorrow.”

Both Rublev and Ruud are seeking their first Masters 1000 final appearance, with Rublev just reaching the semi-finals at the Miami Open presented by Itau and Ruud making a run to the Rome semi-finals last year.

“I just have to prepare like it’s the toughest challenge of my career so far,” Ruud said. “I’m sure it will be. But I’ve gained good confidence from this week. I’ve beaten good players the last matches. I have to try to find a way to believe that I can win.”

Fourth seed Tsitsipas will face surprise semi-finalist Evans in the first singles clash on Court Rainier III. Tsitsipas has been in fine form all week long, and is the only semi-finalist who has yet to drop a set as he seeks his first Masters 1000 trophy. The Greek will take a 2-0 ATP Head2Head lead into his match against Evans, but his opponent will be far from the player Tsitsipas cruised past at Dubai and Hamburg last year.

The 30-year-old Brit has been the breakthrough story of the tournament in Monte-Carlo, where he began his campaign with a win over 2019 finalist Dusan Lajovic and scored his first Top 20 win of the year over newly minted Masters 1000 champion Hubert Hurkacz. It was already Evans’ best result of the season – but he wasn’t done yet.

The World No. 33 stunned the tennis world with an emphatic straight-sets win over World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the third round. He continued to confound his opponents with his variety and movement, qualities that 11th seed David Goffin highlighted after his own quarter-final defeat. Tsitsipas will be Evans’ fifth former Masters 1000 finalist opponent in a row.

“He has a lot of talent. He’s able to change tactics when he needs to. He’s very smart, very precise,” Goffin said. “When he feels down, he moves forward, makes shorter rallies. He can feel when you need to make the opponent play or when you need to make the points shorter.”

What makes the results even more outstanding is the fact that coming into the tournament, Evans owned only four main draw clay-court singles wins in his career. Clay is not the Brit’s favourite surface, but he’s been able to find his footing in Monte-Carlo.

“It was only him who didn’t believe he was able to play well on clay,” Goffin said. “Now he’s more mature, has a more stable game, and he’s able to fight and believe he can win. He was the only one not believing it.”

Also in action, the Monte-Carlo doubles semi-finals will take centre stage as the opening and closing matches on Court Rainier III. Fourth seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos will take on second seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, who lifted the trophy a few weeks ago in Miami. Last on court, top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah will face Evans and Neal Skupski.

COURT RAINIER III start 11:30 am
[4] M. Granollers (ESP) / H. Zeballos (ARG) vs [2] N. Mektic (CRO) / M. Pavic (CRO)

Not Before 1:30 pm
D. Evans (GBR) vs [4] S. Tsitsipas (GRE)
[6] A. Rublev (RUS) or [3] R. Nadal (ESP) vs C. Ruud (NOR)
[1] J. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) vs D. Evans (GBR) / N. Skupski (GBR)

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