Fritz First American To Reach Monte-Carlo Quarterfinals Since 2008

Taylor Fritz (photo: ATP Tour video)

MONTE-CARLO/WASHINGTON, April 14, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

As the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters has reached the quarterfinal round, American Taylor Fritz has made a very smooth transition from hard courts to red clay.

On Thursday afternoon, the 24-year-old Californian won an all-American matchup against Sebastian Korda, 7-6 (4), 7-5, in the year’s first Masters 1000 on European clay. The 10th seed Fritz, who last month captured his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, extended his success by reaching the quarterfinals in four of the last five Masters 1000 tournaments. His outstanding run has lifted him to a career-best ranking of World No. 13.

Fritz’s victory over the 42nd-ranked Korda in their first meeting, which he finished in an hour-and-a-half on Court des Princes, improved his ATP Masters 1000 record to 11-1 this year and he’s the first American to reach the Monte-Carlo quarterfinals since Sam Querrey in 2008.

“I thought the match today was pretty good,” Fritz said following his victory, which he capped with his 11th ace on his second match-point opportunity. “I was looking out for his return. I think I did a good job serving, mixing up all my spots. I fought off his returns on my second serves, which was the main focus. It was really good conditions today. So, I was able to play what I felt was my best match.”

Later, during an interview with Tennis Channel‘s Prakash Amritraj, Fritz gave props to Korda, whom he later teamed with on the doubles court during a 6-4, 6-7 (7), 10-7 loss to Rohan Bopanna of India and Jamie Murray of Great Britain. He said of playing against Korda: “He’s such a good returner. I was really focused on serving well and holding serve. I did a really good job. I think only getting broken only once against him is pretty good. He breaks a lot.”

So, just why is Fritz doing so well regardless of the surface he plays on?

“A lot of it is confidence,” he said. “For me, having the confidence to go after my shots. I’ve been playing well. It’s the confidence to trust yourself in the big moments, play the big points well. I think that’s been a big part of it.”

Fritz finished his third-round triumph with 21 winners and outpointed Korda 70-62.

Next, Fritz will play No. 46 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain, who breezed past Marrakech title winner David Goffin of Belgium, 6-4, 6-1, outpointing the 74th-ranked wild card 68-48. Earlier this week, Davidovich Fokina eliminated World No. 1 and tournament top seed Novak Djokovic in the second round.

Dimitrov reaches Monte-Carlo quarterfinals for fourth time

Grigor Dimitrov has always saved some of his best tennis for Monte-Carlo, where he’s been a three-time (2013, 2015, 2018) quarterfinalist as well as a 2018 semifinalist. Thursday on Court Rainier III, the World No. 29 from Bulgaria used an effective groundstroke attack to beat No. 4 seed Casper Ruud of Norway, 6-3, 7-5, in an hour and 31 minutes, and it’s propelled him into his fourth Monte-Carlo quarterfinal.

The victory was Dimitrov’s third this week and followed earlier wins against No. 15 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia and Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.

“I was really looking forward to the match,” Dimitrov said during his on-court interview following his win. “I knew if I did the right things, good things would come out of it. Casper is such a great player on whatever surface. He has proved it over and over again at such a young age, which is nice to see.”

Indeed, Ruud arrived at Monte-Carlo with six tour-level titles on clay and was a semifinalist in Monaco last year. He defeated Danish rising star Holger Rune on Wednesday.

“I liked that matchup and wanted to see where I was physically and mentally. I just played and enjoyed the game,” Dimitrov said.

Against Ruud, Dimitrov won 90 percent (27 of 30) of his first-serve points, broke Ruud’s serve four times and outpointed him 63-49.

And what does Dimitrov think of reaching another Monte-Carlo quarterfinal?

“It is always tough this week because you are switching surfaces,” he said. “So, I try and not be too tough on myself in practice. I just try to do the simple things. It is going so well so far.”

Next, he will oppose No. 11 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, who bested Spain’s 37th-ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas, 7-6 (2), 6-2, in one hour and 28 minutes on Court des Princes, behind 10 aces and 32 winners.

Around the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

• Defending champion and this year’s No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas is through to the quarterfinal round for the second straight year after beating No. 62 Laslo Djere of Serbia, 7-5, 7-6 (1), on Court Rainier III. After winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title in the Principality of Monaco a year ago, the World No. 5 from Greece has put together another clean slate of straight-set wins over No. 32 Fabio Fognini of Italy and Djere. He has won 13 straight sets dating back to last year’s title run and has now reached 13 Masters 1000 quarterfinals.

“I knew I had to be alert,” Tsitsipas explained during his on-court interview. “He is someone who competes very well on clay. He stays consistent and puts a lot of balls back and I really had to work hard for this win.”

Tsitsipas hit 18 winners to 24 unforced errors, while Djere countered with 22 winners and 34 unforced errors. Tsitsipas outpointed his opponent 86-69.

“It was important to get a good dynamic start in the tie-break and stay in rallies and take my chances when they appeared,” Tsitsipas added. He jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second-set tie-break en route to his victory.

Next, Tsitsipas will face No. 12 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, who overcame losing his first six service games and recovered to win 10 of the last 14 games overall to beat No. 83 Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Court des Princes. The victory puts Schwartzman into his second quarterfinal at Monte-Carlo.

Other Thursday highlights:

• No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany advanced to the quarterfinal round with a solid 95-minute 6-2, 7-5 victory over Spain’s Pablo Carreño Busta on Court Rainier III. Having already enjoyed Masters 1000 success on clay in winning Madrid twice and Rome once, Zverev is three wins shy of winning Monte-Carlo for the first time. He was a 2018 semifinalist.

“This is the only Masters on clay I haven’t won yet, but I’m very motivated to do so,” Zverev said Wednesday. “I’m very motivated to play great tennis and I hope I can show that on court this week.”

Against the No. 13 seed Carreño Busta, Zverev backed up his Wednesday win over Argentina’s Federico Delbonis by hitting eight aces and 26 winners and scoring points from both the baseline and at the net. Zverev outpointed his opponent 73-55.

After the match, during his on-court interview, Zverev said: “For the second clay-court match of the season, I can’t complain too much. I lost focus a little bit in the second set but at the end of the day, he’s someone who can really play. So, I’m happy with a two-set win.

“To win the biggest tournaments in the world like Masters, like Grand Slams, you have to be aggressive. I’m not going to win titles by just pushing the ball.”

• Next, Zverev will play No. 9 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy, who rallied for a 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 victory over No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia in two hours and 20 minutes on Court Rainier III, in what the young Italian who now calls Monte-Carlo home described as a Davis Cup-like atmosphere.

Sinner overcame 43 unforced errors by pounding 35 winners and converted seven of 12 break-point chances against Rublev. Sinner outpointed his opponent 102-83.

“I tried to play every point,” Sinner said. “The crowd was unbelievable. For me, this is a special place. It was incredible.”

Thursday’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters results

Friday’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters order of play

By the numbers

Grigor Dimitrov has already recorded the same number of wins on clay this year – three – than he garnered all of last season. Last year, Dimitrov went 3-8 on clay. This year, he’s started 3-0.

“Quotable …”

“I had luck. Maybe, if we repeat the match, at the end he deserves to win in two sets. I was there to fight and I think it’s going to be one of those matches I remember because of how I fought.”

— No. 12 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina in an interview with Tennis Channel, commenting on his three-set comeback victory over Lorenzo Musetti.