MONACO (AP) — Defending champion Stefanos Tsitispas breezed into the Monte Carlo Masters final after dispatching second-seeded Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday.
Tsitsipas lined up the first big final of the clay-court season against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, the Spaniard who knocked out Novak Djokovic in the second round.
Davidovich Fokina reached his first ATP final by beating Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-3.
Tsitsipas dominated Zverev on clay like the Greek never had previously. Zverev recovered from a break down twice in the first set that Tsitsipas took with a third break in the 10th game.
No. 5-ranked Tsitsipas then broke twice more in the second set and improved his record against No. 3 Zverev to 7-3, on clay to 3-0. The German won both of their hard-court contests last year.
Tsitsipas was on court just 12 hours after winning a long quarterfinal.
“I had to put my soul out,” Tsitsipas said.
“I wanted to stay on the court as much as I had to, trying to start rallies and make it physical. It worked in my favor.”
Zverev said he felt spent against Tsitsipas following his own lengthy quarterfinal on Friday against Jannik Sinner, during which he struggled with a leg injury.
“It took a lot out of me (and) the issue with my leg didn’t help,” Zverev said.
He was grateful for a positive start to the clay-court season after a challenging few weeks.
The Tokyo Olympics gold medalist was put on probation for one year last month for yelling and cursing and hitting the chair umpire’s stand repeatedly with his racket following a loss in doubles at the Mexico Open. He was fined and kicked out of the tournament, unable to defend his singles title.
Since then, he’s won two Davis Cup singles to help Germany beat Brazil, lost to Casper Ruud in the Miami quarterfinals and fallen ill, and overcome Sinner in Monte Carlo but got slightly injured.
“I feel like things keep happening that are a little bit out of my control, which is a little bit upsetting for me,” Zverev said.
The unseeded Davidovich Fokina took the first set from Dimitrov with ease, but squandered the chance at 5-4 in the second to take the semifinal in straight sets. The third set was tense. Davidovich Fokina overcame a break and 2-0 down.
“I pushed myself to the limit,” Davidovich Fokina said. “I’m glad that I pushed myself to that.”
The Spaniard will try to prevent Tsitsipas from becoming the first repeat Monte Carlo champion since Rafael Nadal in 2018. Tsitsipas has a 2-0 record against him, including in February in the Netherlands.
More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports