Monte Carlo Masters: Shock winners and biggest upsets
Every year in April the ATP Tour heads onto the red clay kicking off with the legendary Monte Carlos Masters.
Here Tennishead reveals the most surprising victories seen in Monaco including two shock upsets for Novak Djokovic.
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Pete Sampras vs Carl-Uwe Steeb
In April 1992 Pete Sampras, who was World number four at the time, was making his first ever appearance at the Monte Carlo Masters. By this point in the American’s career he had already been crowned as the US Champion and had nine tour titles to his name.
He met German Carl-Uwe Steeb, a left-handed clay-court specialist from Germany, in the second round. In stark contrast to Sampras, Steeb was ranked 40th in the world and had never surpassed the fourth round of a Grand Slam.
However, this was not reflected in the match as the German got off to an explosive start and, after only 19 minutes of play, lead Sampras 5-0. ‘Pistol Pete’ then tried to rally and come back, but Steeb sealed the first set, 6-3. The second set was a much tighter affair but at 4-4, Steeb was able to clinch the decisive break of serve and comfortably see out the victory winning 6-3, 6-4.
Jiri Vesley vs Novak Djokovic
In the 2016 edition of the Monte Carlo Maters, World number 55 Jiri Vesely pulled off a huge shock by beating World number one at the time and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the second round. Vesely, despite pressure from Djokovic, held his nerve for a stunning victory in two hours and six minutes, winning 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
The defeat was only the Serbian’s second loss all season and his earliest defeat on the ATP World Tour in three years. It was also Djokovic’s first defeat to a player outside of the Top 50 in almost 6 years.
Djokovic was on a ridiculous run of results, making Vesley’s victory even more surprising and impressive. He had won nine of his past 10 tournaments, dating back to a runner-up finish in Cincinnati in August 2015. This run was the polar opposite to Vesley’s form, who had just won one match in seven tournaments at the start of the season.
Dusan Lajovic 2019 edition
Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic entered the 2019 tournament ranked at number 48 in the World. In his career prior to the tournament, he had never recorded five tour-level wins in a row or made it to a tour-level final and recorded a win over a top 5 opponent. By the end of the week, that had all changed.
He recorded wins over three seeded opponents en route to his first tour-level final, which included 16th seed David Goffin in the round of 32, 4th seed Dominic Thiem in the last 16 and 10th seed Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals. What made this achievement even more remarkable was that he did not drop a single set before he reached the final.
Dan Evans vs Novak Djokovic
Again, Novak Djokovic was on the end of another surprising defeat at the 2021 edition of the Monte Carlo Masters. Dan Evans, who had not won a tour-level match on clay in nearly four years and only ever won four clay-court matches in his career prior to Monte-Carlo, ”dismantled” the Serbians game to record a stunning 6-4, 7-5 victory over the top seed.
The victory meant Djokovic’s 10-0 start to the 2021 season came to an abrupt end, with Dan Evans recording only his fourth ever victory against a top 10 opponent in 18 outings. Interestingly, in this defeat Djokovic rued missed opportunities. In the second set he was up 3-0 and even had one set point at 5-4 to equal the tie.
At the time Evans said he was motivated by Djokovic making him wait in the changing room for the match to start.
Alejandro David Fokina vs Matteo Berrettini
In the 2021 Monte Carlo Masters, another shock occurred in the third round, when 21 year old Davidovich Fokina convincingly beat eighth seed Matteo Berrettini 7-5, 6-3 to reach the last 16.
The win for the young Spaniard was not only his first victory at an ATP Masters 1000 clay-court event, but also his first win against a Top 10 player. The World number 58, at the time, had a record of four losses in four matches against top 10 opposition.
Impressively, Fokina managed to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament however had to retire middway through his last eight clash due to injury.
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