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Tsitsipas has sights set on the top following back-to-back titles in Monte-Carlo

Five men had won back-to-back titles in Monte-Carlo before Stefanos Tsitsipas accomplished the same feat on Sunday. Now the Greek hopes to go on and reach even greater heights that those five players also achieved.

Stefanos Tsitsipas Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in action during his quarter final match against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Stefanos Tsitsipas became the sixth man to win back-to-back titles at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters when he defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 7-6(3) in the final on Sunday afternoon.

It’s safe to say that the list of five players he joined is illustrious. Preceding Tsitsipas in successfully defending a Monte-Carlo title were Ilie Nastase (1971, 1972, 1973), Bjorn Borg (1979-80), Tomas Muster (1995-96), Juan Carlos Ferrero (2002-2003), and Rafael Nadal (2005-2012, 2016-2018). All five of those men are Roland-Garros champions and they all reached No. 1 in the world.

That certainly bodes well for Tsitsipas moving forward.

“It’s very encouraging, absolutely,” the 23-year-old responded when told during his press conference of the aforementioned statistic. “I really want to improve the stat and make it even better.”

Tsitsipas continues to thrive on clay

You have to think Tsitsipas has a great chance of eventually triumphing at the French Open, like those five repeat Monte-Carlo champions before him. The current world No. 5 came close last spring, when he led Novak Djokovic two sets to love in the championship match only to lose in five. In 2020 he also fell to Djokovic in five — that time in the semis.

In addition to his Roland-Garros runner-up performance, Tsitsipas’ 2021 clay-court swing also included a final appearance in Barcelona — where he went down to Nadal in a three-set thriller. The Greek will try to go one step further in Barcelona next week and he is the top seed there ahead of Casper Ruud, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Cameron Norrie, and Carlos Alcaraz.

Based on how Tsitsipas performed in Monte-Carlo, he has to be considered the Barcelona favorite. After all, right now on clay he should treated as one of the top contenders at any tournament.

“I have a surface that I might be adjusting easier to than other surfaces, and we know which one that is,” Tsitsipas said. “My goal ever since I have realized that is if I’m able to score points in this surface as much as I can and really concentrate on the other surfaces a bit more, I can really pull off a great year — maybe even finishing among the two best tennis players at the end of the season.

“So in the back of my head I’m always trying to bring the best I can from clay and adjust accordingly to the other surfaces. I really want to be doing well on hard and grass this year, because I feel like I can really get a lot of points there. If I’m able to win matches with the same consistency I do on this surface, I think I have a big chance of finishing the year of the top two — which is a huge goal of mine to be finally there and belong in that special group of players.”

At this rate, Tsitsipas will be joining a whole lot of special groups during his career.

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