Defending Champion Rublev Stunned In His First Match At Monte-Carlo Masters

Defending Champion Rublev Stunned In His First Match At Monte-Carlo Masters

by Erik Virostko

Andrey Rublev won the Monte-Carlo Masters last year, but in 2024, he was stopped already in his first match at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament.

The Russian was the best player in Monte Carlo last year, but as with every tournament win, the joy one year turns into pressure the following year, and Rublev couldn't deal with that pressure this time around.

In his first match at the 2024 Monte-Carlo Masters, he took on Alexei Popyrin from Australia, who started the tournament well with a first-round win over France's Corentin Moutet, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Taking on the defending champion was never going to be easy for the Australian, but he embraced the challenge, and it paid off. After saving two early break points in the first set, Popyrin got the first break, leading 3-1 after confirming it with a hold.

The world no. 46 then had three more chances to increase his lead in the first set from one-break to two-break, but even though he failed on that mission, it wasn't necessary, as he served out the set to win it 6-4.

He was stable from both sides, hitting 11 winners from the forehand side and 10 from the backhand during the match while adding four aces. On the other hand, the Russian player struggled a lot from his forehand, making a total of 17 unforced errors.

That showed in the second set, but what mattered most was efficiency. Rublev got the first break, leading 3-1, but he immediately lost hit and, after that, wasted two chances to regain the one-break advantage.

Popyrin then used another break point to lead 5-4 and served for the match, as the sixth seed wasn't able to use another break point, which the Australian saved with a massive serve.

After an hour and 39 minutes of play, Popyrin won the match 6-4, 6-4 to reach the third round of the 2024 Monte-Carlo Masters, becoming the first player since 2016 to eliminate the defending champion in their first match in Monte Carlo.


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