Greek defeats surging Ruud in championship match

Stefanos Tsitsipas capped another standout week at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Sunday when he dispatched Casper Ruud 6-1, 6-4 to win his third title in four years in the Principality.

The Greek has produced his best tennis in Monte-Carlo in the past and once again rose to the occasion against Ruud in front of a capacity crowd on Court Rainier III. The Greek played freely, taking large cuts on his heavy forehand to force Ruud deep, while he moved forward efficiently to expose the Norwegian’s deep-court position.

With his one-hour, 37-minute win, Tsitsipas became the fifth player to win three or more Monte-Carlo titles, joining Rafael Nadal (11), Bjorn Borg (3), Thomas Muster (3) and Ilie Nastase (3). After clinching the title, he collapsed to the court before he rose to his feet to embrace Ruud. Visibly emotional, the Greek then embraced his team. He will hope that his title run in Monte-Carlo helps kick start his season.

"It has been very difficult, so to be back on the podiums, winning tournaments just feels amazing," Tsitsipas said. "I can't thank my family enough and friends, and if there is God out there, for making this moment possible. I am extremely grateful for every person behind this journey. 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. I am extremely happy today."

The 25-year-old arrived at the clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event holding a modest 11-6 record in 2024. However, as has been the case in the past, Tsitsipas found his best level in Monte-Carlo, where he also defeated Top 10 stars Alexander Zverev and Jannik Sinner. By also beating World No. 10 Ruud, it is the first time since Toronto in 2018 that the Greek has earned three Top 10 wins at an event.

The Greek came out firing in his 28th tour-level final, dictating on his forehand to break Ruud’s serve in the third game. The 25-year-old, who hit 10 winners and committed six unforced errors in the first set, regularly drew roars from the crowd with his fearless tennis catching the eye of stars such as Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc.

"I had to go out there and show my tennis as I promised every single of of them [my team] I will make the most out of it," Tsitsipas said. "I am glad I presented on court and showed some ruthless tennis. From the beginning to the end my play was cohesive and I was able to blend in a lot of different shots."

After sealing the first set on his second set point, the 12th seed, Tsitsipas saved one break point in his opening service game of the second set with a thunderous forehand to maintain control.

Ruud struggled to find the court with consistency on his forehand in the first set, frequently overhitting. While he improved in the second set, he was unable to find the required level to hurt the Greek. In a tense 13-minute seventh game, Tsitipas fended off three break points before holding. He then gained a decisive break himself to seal victory.

The three-time Monte-Carlo champion saved all eight break points he faced according to Infosys ATP Stats, while converting four of his eight break opportunities.

Tsitsipas is now level at 2-2 in the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series, with his title triumph in Monte-Carlo his first against Ruud since Los Cabos last year. The Greek, who has won 11 tour-level trophies, including three Masters 1000 titles, will return to the Top 10 for the first time since February on Monday when he climbs to No. 7. 

Ruud, who defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, has won nine of his 10 tour-level crowns on clay. The eighth seed was aiming to become the first Scandinavian to win an ATP Masters 1000 title on the surface since Swede Magnus Norman in Rome in 2000. The 25-year-old will climb to No. 6 in the PIF ATP Rankings on Monday, his highest position since September 2023.