By Hanya El Ghetany
Despite the absence of many of the big names such as Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Gael Monfils, and Matteo Berrettini, Monte Carlo remained unquestionably one of the most dramatic tennis ATP 1000 events of 2022 so far.
A tournament that began with much hype being drummed up regarding a possible quarter-final first encounter between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz took a twist and a turn and ended up instead as a showdown between Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Taylor Fritz. We had very interesting choices of fashion along the way. From Tsonga’s △◇⌔⟁◐╭ ╯⧖⧉ to Alexander Zverev’s sleeveless outfit. Gigor Dimitrov’s engravings on his racket attracted attention. We all missed Djokovic and his roars. While the Serb did not disappoint, he faced an early exit against Fokina who just loves to cover himself in clay. Alexander Bublik’s run came to a halt when he abruptly retired mid-match and mentioned that he just doesn’t like clay. We also had one last year of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Monte Carlo as he announced that his retirement will be at Roland Garros. Jannik Sinner shocked me this tournament. His performance was excellent but what surprised me the most was the outpouring of support he received in Monte Carlo. Not sure if Monte Carlo or Rome. Did you hear the “JANNIK JANNIK”?
Wanting celebrities? None other than Brazilian star Neymar showed up. Also, Khaby!… if you know, you know! Looking for drama? We also had some interesting signs on the camera. Stefanos Tsitsipas gives the signature process a good deal of thought, certainly as much as he gives his tweets. He signed yellow submarine – a Villarreal fan, eh? But also signed Green Parachute… Not sure what’s that about. Dimitrov just gave the camera a kiss so let’s pretend it was for us. Fokina was probably hungry when he signed Burrata y milanesa. Casper Ruud admitted his love of clay, misspelling clay along the way, and the pen ran out of ink by the time it reached Fabbio Fognini.
In all seriousness, we had some interesting matches that put the debate of where tennis will go after the big three retire to rest. We still enjoyed Monte Carlo despite Djokovic’s early exit. Sebastian Korda vs Alcaraz, Korda vs Fritz, Andrey Rublev vs Sinner, Hubert Hurkacz vs Dimitrov, and pretty much every Fokina match. I’m not worried about the future of tennis.
The quarterfinals had an intriguing line-up. Fokina vs Fritz, Dimitrov vs Hurkacz, Diego Schwartzman vs Tsitsipas, Sinner vs Zverev. All of the matches were exciting to watch and all of them had an equal chance of making it to the semi-finals. However, Fokina, Dimitrov, Tsitsipas and Zverev were the semi-finalists and eventually, Tsitsipas would successfully reach the final, just one step away from defending his title. In his way was Fokina, contesting his very first ATP 1000 final. This is shaping up to be a good year for Spaniards after Alcaraz winning Miami. (Food for thought: Look how classy and enjoyable tennis is without angry racket smashing and nasty snaps? Tennis doesn’t need this).
Up until the final, we saw 7 matches end in a 7-point tie-break each as theatrical as the next. Evans(W)/Bonzi, Martinez(W)/Humbert, Felix/Musetti(W), Fucsovics/Schwartzman(W), Tsitsipas(W)/Dere, Dimitrov(W) /Hurckacz and Sinner/Zverev(W)
Monte Carlo concluded with the Tsitsipas defending his title and beating Fokina in yet another match that ended in a 7-point tie-break 6-3, 7-6 (7-3). By going back-to-back, the Greek became the first player outside the big 3 to defend a masters 1000 title since Ferrero in 2002 & 2003.
As the dust settles for now, I honestly can’t wait for our next Masters 1000 in Madrid.