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SPORTS

Tsitsipas Sweeps Aside Ruud to Win Monte Carlo Masters for the Third Time, and Then Weeps

MONACO (AP) — Stefanos Tsitsipas swept aside Casper Ruud 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday to win the clay-court Monte Carlo Masters for the third time in four years, and then wept in his chair.

Tsitsipas sat holding his head in his hands, briefly crying as he took in his first title of the year and biggest tournament victory for two years.

“I’m very proud of myself today. I had been waiting for a moment like this for a long time,” said the 12th-ranked Tsitsipas, who reached a career-high No. 3 ranking in 2021. “I did not know what was going to happen this week.”

The big-serving Greek also won the title in 2021 and 2022 and this latest trophy at the Monte Carlo Country Club took him to 11 career titles overall.

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece reacts after winning the 2nd set against Casper Ruud of Norway to win the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters final match 6-1, 6-4 in Monaco, Sunday, April 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

“It has been very difficult, so to be back on the podium, winning tournaments, just feels amazing,” Tsitsipas said. “The third time is even more special than the first or second time. This is an unbelievable win for me. Capturing that win today was nerve-wracking, I really wanted this trinity.”

It was his first trophy since August last year, when he won a modest ATP 250-level tournament on outdoor hard courts at Los Cabos in Mexico.

This was much more prestigious and he shared a warm hug at the net with Ruud, who is chasing his first title of the year and remains stuck on 10 overall.

The match featured former French Open runner-ups and offered an early indication of form heading into the clay-court major at next month’s Roland Garros.

Tsitsipas was an outsider coming into this tournament, where he was seeded 12th.

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, left, poses with the trophy alongside runner up Casper Ruud of Norway after the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters final match in Monaco, Sunday, April 14, 2024. Tsitsipas won the match 6-1, 6-4. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

But he got the better of Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner in the semifinals, handing him only his second defeat of the season to set up a perhaps unexpected final against Ruud, who beat top-ranked Novak Djokovic in Saturday’s other semi.

Tsitsipas took an early control.

He broke Ruud’s serve and held for 3-1, then secured another break of serve when eighth-seeded Ruud flapped a loose forehand into the net from the back of the court. A nervous-looking Ruud double-faulted on set point.

Ruud improved in the second set and pressured Tsitsipas, who saved three break points and took 13 minutes to hold serve in a tough seventh game.

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece celebrates after winning the 2nd set against Casper Ruud of Norway to win the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters final match 6-1, 6-4 in Monaco, Sunday, April 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

That seemed to be Ruud’s last chance while also summing up his erratic match, where he made too many unforced errors and failed to convert any of his eight break-point chances.

Tsitsipas hit an ace to win his next service game, leaving Ruud needing to hold serve to stay in the match.

An unforced error at 30-30 saw Ruud patting a straightforward-looking backhand long to offer Tsitsipas a first match point.

He seized the moment.

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece poses with the trophy alongside Ferarri F1 driver Charles Leclerc, left, after defeating Casper Ruud of Norway to win the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters final match 6-1, 6-4 in Monaco, Sunday, April 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

Tsitsipas dominated a brief rally and clinched victory with a forehand winner, then slid on his back with his arms outstretched and put his hands on his face.

“I managed the point relatively well and finished it with the winner,” Tsitsipas said. “I showed some ruthless tennis. From the beginning to the end, my play was cohesive.”

Tsitsipas will improve to No. 7 when the ATP rankings are released on Monday.

Casper Ruud of Norway returns to Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during their Monte Carlo Tennis Masters final match in Monaco, Sunday, April 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece celebrates after winning the 2nd set against Casper Ruud of Norway to win the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters final match 6-1, 6-4 in Monaco, Sunday, April 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece serves to Casper Ruud of Norway during their Monte Carlo Tennis Masters final match in Monaco, Sunday, April 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

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