Andrey Rublev overcame a resilient Taylor Fritz and damp conditions to reach the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters championship match on Saturday.
The fifth-seeded Rublev rallied to a 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 semi-final victory at the clay-court ATP Masters 1000. Rublev kept his cool despite losing an opening set that he had thrice led by a break of serve. He dialled in behind his powerful forehand to dominate the second set before rain forced the players off for the best part of two hours with Rublev leading 3-2 in the decider.
While Fritz struggled to rouse his best level again after the restart, Rublev resumed where he had left off. He produced some razor-sharp returning to break the American’s serve immediately for 4-2 and held firm behind his own delivery to seal a two-hour, seven-minute triumph.
“It was really tough, especially against Taylor,” Rublev said. “I lost past three times [against him] I think, [including] in Indian Wells in the semi-finals. It was tough mentally to play against him because I was thinking if I would have [a chance].
“I started really well and then I was up a break and then he broke me back, but I knew I would have chances. In the end we had a great match and I am pleased with the win.”
With victory in his first tour-level match against Fritz on clay, Rublev advanced to the Monte-Carlo final for the second time. He fell to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the final hurdle in the Principality in 2021, but the 25-year-old will hope to banish memories of that disappointment when he meets Holger Rune or Jannik Sinner in Sunday’s championship match.
Rublev is a five-time champion at ATP 500 level but is chasing his maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy this week at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. He is now 17-8 for the 2023 season, a tally which also includes a run to the Dubai championship match in February.
Fritz had won all four of his previous ATP Masters 1000 meetings with Rublev, and the American frequently demonstrated his rapidly improving movement on clay throughout a topsy-turvy opening set. Despite dropping serve three times early, the eighth seed won three games in a row from 4-5 to move within a set of his maiden tour-level final on clay.
Rublev upped the accuracy of his clean ballstriking from then on, however, and he broke Fritz’s serve a further five times across the second and third sets to complete his victory. The World No. 6’s greater consistency from the baseline proved decisive, as he finished with 26 winners to 16 unforced errors in comparison to Fritz’s ratio of 21 to 26.