Stefanos Tsitsipas matches Rafael Nadal with 'incredible' feat

Seen here, Stefanos Tsitsipas reacts after defending his Monte Carlo Masters title.
Stefanos Tsitsipas claimed back-to-back Monte Carlo titles to join an exclusive list of tennis champions. Pic: Getty

Stefanos Tsitsipas has written himself into the tennis record books after defending his Monte Carlo Masters title with a 6-3, 7-6 (3) win against unseeded Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

The Greek star's incredible title defence sees him become the first repeat champion at the Monte Carlo Masters since Rafael Nadal in 2018.

The pair are the only active players to have achieved the feat.

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Tsitsipas also joins an exclusive list of past champions to achieve back-to-back success at Monte Carlo, with Nadal, Ilie Nastase, Thomas Muster, Bjorn Borg and Juan Carlos Ferrero the only other men to have done so in the Open era.

"It's a great feeling because we had the crowd this year," the third-seeded Greek said after winning the first big final of the clay-court season. "It was a bit more lively than last year."

Davidovich Fokina, the Spaniard who knocked out Novak Djokovic in the second round, was playing his first ATP final.

Tsitsipas won the first set despite conceding an early break. Davidovic Fokina overcame an early break in the second and broke twice.

Tsitsipas squandered a chance to serve out the match at 5-4 but still wrapped up the final in 1 hour, 34 minutes.

"I am very proud of myself," Tsitsipas said. "Things weren't going well at one point, but I managed to stay composed."

Tsitsipas even got a special shout-out from Nadal on social media after the remarkable achievement.

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The 23-year-old Tsitsipas reached the semifinals of the Australian Open in January but the identity of his opponent in the Monte Carlo final surprised many.

"I must confess that he (Davidovich Fokina) was not the Spaniard I was expecting in the final," said Zeljko Franulovic, the tournament's director, with 11-time winner Nadal not playing because of a rib injury.

As well as knocking out Djokovic, Davidovich Fokina also beat Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinals and Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals.

"It was an amazing experience," the 22-year-old Spaniard said about the tournament.

Davidovich Fokina said it had increased his confidence for the rest of the season.

Seen here, Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in action against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Monte Carlo Masters final.
Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is seen here in action against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Monte Carlo Masters final. Pic: Getty

"I don't know if I will win another match, but I will be focused on every point, every game," Davidovich Fokina said.

Tsitsipas was delighted by the rowdy crowd, after the coronavirus meant the 2020 edition was cancelled and the 2021 tournament held without fans.

"It's much more nerve-racking to have people involved, you have the fans yelling and chanting, but it was a great way to top it off with lots of fighting in the end," Tsitsipas said. "He fought in moments I did not expect him to fight."

with AAP

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