Monte-Carlo Masters Monday Preview: Two of the ATP’s Fastest-Rising Stars Meet in the First Round - UBITENNIS
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Monte-Carlo Masters Monday Preview: Two of the ATP’s Fastest-Rising Stars Meet in the First Round




Lorenzo Musetti on court last week at the Sardegna Open (

19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti and 27-year-old Aslan Karatsev have skyrocketed up the rankings since the tour restart last summer, and their first career meeting will open Monday’s play.  We’ll also get our first look at Felix Auger-Aliassime with new coach Toni Nadal on his team, as he faces one of the ATP’s best clay court players.  And the defending champion of this event from 2019, Fabio Fognini, will play his opening match against a 21-year-old who won his first ATP title last September on clay.


Eight of the top 10 players in the world are entered into this draw, all of whom received first round byes.  Only Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem are absent from this event.  World No.1 Novak Djokovic, new No.2 Daniil Medvedev, and 11-time champion Rafael Nadal are the top seeds.

With rain and cool temperatures forecast for this week in Monte-Carlo, slow conditions, along with weather delays, should be anticipated.

Throughout the week, this preview will analyze the most prominent match of the day, and note the other intriguing matchups on the day’s schedule.  Monday’s play will begin at 11:00am local time.

Aslan Karatsev vs. Lorenzo Musetti (WC) – 11:00am on Court Rainier III

When tour events re-started last August, Karatsev was ranked 253rd in the world.  And the veteran had never been inside the top 150.  But after training hard and playing many exhibitions during the tour shutdown, the Russian’s career exploded.  Since August, he is an astonishing 42-9 at all levels, with two Challenger titles and one tour-level title.  And in his first-ever main draw appearance at a Major, he reached the semifinals in Melbourne, with victories over three top 20 seeds.  Despite the current two-year frozen ranking system, he’s risen all the way into the top 30. 

When tour events re-started last August, Musetti was ranked 284th in the world.  But he made an indelible impression at his home country’s Masters event.  After coming through qualifying in Rome, he defeated both Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori.  The very next week, also in Italy, he won his first Challenger title.  Lorenzo started off 2021 by reaching two more Challenger finals, and then made a thrilling run to the semifinals in Acapulco, with wins over Diego Schwartzman, Frances Tiafoe, and Grigor Dimitrov.  And just last week, he saved four match points to upset top-seeded Dan Evans in Cagliari.  He recently debuted inside the top 100, with a further rise seemingly inevitable.

Both men accumulated excellent records last season on clay: Karatsev was 17-2 at all levels, while Musetti went 20-6.  However, while Lorenzo has played 11 matches on this surface in 2021, this will be Aslan’s first clay match of the year.  And the slow, heavy conditions on Monday will not bolster the powerful groundstrokes of Karatsev.  At an event featuring nine Italians in the singles draw, Musetti should be favored to likely join several of his fellow countrymen in the second round.

Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Cristian Garin (16) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime – Felix shocked the tennis world last week by announcing the addition of Toni Nadal to his coaching team.  Garin loves playing on clay: all five of his ATP titles have come on this surface.  They have split two previous meetings, both in February of 2019 on clay in South America.

Fabio Fognini (15) vs. Miomir Kecmanovic – Fognini won the biggest title of his career two years ago on these grounds.  Kecmanovic was the champion of the clay event in Kitzbuhel seven months ago.  These two have never before played.

Hubert Hurkacz (13) vs. Thomas Fabbiano (Q) – This will be Hubi’s first match since winning the Miami Open eight days ago.  Fabbiano is one of four Italian men to qualify for this event, though he hasn’t won a tour level match since upsetting Dominic Thiem at the 2019 US Open. 

Monday’s full Order of Play is here.


Nadal survives three-set marathon with Shapovalov in Rome

Rafael Nadal saved match points to edge out Denis Shapovalov in Rome.




Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The King of Clay needed three sets and over three hours to claim the win and avoid an upset.


Rafael Nadal needed three hours and 27 minutes to beat the Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at the Italian Open in Rome hitting 29 winners while his counterpart hit 46 unforced errors in the loss.

To everyone’s surprise it was the world number 14 who came out with the faster start earning two breakpoints in the first service game of the match with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break to take an early 1-0 lead and continued to have momentum earning another break and the Spaniard found himself staring at 3-0 defecit.

At 4-1 the world number three would get one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto native would break one more time at 5-3 on his fourth breakpoint of the game to take the first set.

Once again we saw some really strong play from the Canadian in the beginning of the second set we saw history repeat itself when the world number 14 held serve and get the early break this time with his powerful forehand.

Nadal was fighting to stay in the set and the match and managed to earn a breakpoint but it was quickly saved with a big ace from Shapovalov. The very next game the Canadian had a chance to get another break but this time the Spaniard would deny him the opportunity.

After the world number three held serve he went on the attack looking to go back on serve and after three chances would get the break back. He would end up winning five games in a row and would take the second set to send it to a decider.

The third set remained on serve until 2-1 when the Canadian had a chance to break and he would take to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The break didn’t hold as Nadal came storming back the very next game breaking the world number 14 to love and equaling the set at 3-3.

The set and the match would ultimately be decided by a tiebreaker and in that breaker is when the Spaniard would take over winning it 7-3 to book his spot in the quarterfinals.

He will next face either Alexander Zverev or Kei Nishikori on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.

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Novak Djokovic Moving Into A ‘Good Trajectory’ After Reaching Rome Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic admitted that he is on a good trajectory after reaching the last eight in Rome.




Novak Djokovic (@atptour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic has said that he is on a ‘good trajectory’ after moving into the Rome Quarter-Finals.


The world number one moved into the last eight in the Italian capital with a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Despite being broken in the first game, Djokovic rallied back to break on five occasions as he cruised past the Erratic Spaniard.

After 1 hour and 11 minutes, Djokovic’s overall game was too much for Davidovich Fokina as the Serb progressed to his 15th quarter-final in Rome.

After the match in his on-court interview the top seed admitted he is on a good trajectory as he builds momentum towards Roland Garros, “I thought I played well,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court. I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward. I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”

The real test for Djokovic will come tomorrow when he faces top 10 opposition in the last eight.

It will either be Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas or Madrid finalist and home favourite Matteo Berrettini next up for the world number one.

Djokovic was well aware of the form either of his possible opponents are in heading into tomorrow’s showdown, “My next match will be against a Top 10 player, so it is going to be a battle,” Djokovic explained.

“Both of these guys are in great form. Tsitsipas won Monte-Carlo and Berrettini is just coming off the final in Madrid. I am obviously going to do my best to win that match, whoever I play against.”

In the other result in Rome today, Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Aslan Karatsev.

The American hit 18 aces as he will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Federico Delbonis on Friday.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas sets up blockbuster third round match against Matteo Berrettini in Rome




Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2 to advance to third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 


Tsitsipas has improved his win-loss record to 28-7 this season, equalling Andrey Rublev for most match wins after Rublev beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 6-4 earlier today. 

Tsitsipas had to save two break points in the ninth game to hold serve after four deuces. The 2021 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters winner earned his crucial break in the 12th game to win a hard-fought first set 7-5. 

Tsitsipas was in control of the match and cruised to a 6-2 win in the second set with two breaks in the second and eighth games. 

“Sometimes I need to adjust my game and Marin is someone I respect a lot. I knew he was going to come out here and play his best tennis. He made move a lot. It was quite tricky to adjust to that at the beginning, but towards the very end of the first set I stayed calm and stayed calm and resilient. I had to play deep on the returns and find solutions from the baseline rallies. That worked well for me from 6-5”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas set up a blockbuster third round match against last week’s Madrid Mutua Open finalist Matteo Berrettini, who beat John Millman 6-4 6-2 in front of fans, who will return on Thursday. Tsitsipas enjoyed the atmosphere on the Pietrangeli Stadium. 

“The Pietrangeli Stadium is very beautiful. It’s one of the best courts on tour. I feel like the Pietrangeli here is great. We are surrounded by trees in the city and it’s very quiet which is very important for tennis. Honestly, I can’t wait for the fans to come and fill in the stadium”, said Tsitsipas. 

Berrettini missed three consecutive break points in the third game of the opening set and earned his first break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. The Rome-native star served out the first set at 15. Berrettini earned two consecutive breaks to race out to 4-0 lead. Millman saved a break point to hold serve in the fifth game, but Berrettini never looked back in his next two service games to claim the second set 6-2. 

Berrettini has improved with his each appearance in the Rome tournament, reaching the second round in 2018, the third round in 2019 and the quarter final in 2020. 

Tsitsipas beat Berrettini in their only head-to-head match at the 2019 Australian Open. 

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