A Look Back At The 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters
Sun, scenery and scintillating tennis. The Monte-Carlo Country Club once again played host to a perfect week of ATP Masters 1000 action. Plenty of riveting storylines and pulsating moments captured our attention. From early exits and jaw-dropping upsets to Fabio Fognini securing his first Masters 1000 shield, relive the best moments of the 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters...
Fabio's Maiden Moment: It was a moment that Fabio Fognini will never forget. On Sunday, the 31-year-old became the first Italian to win an ATP Masters 1000 title, securing the biggest victory of his career. Fognini was a force throughout the week in the Principality, stunning Alexander Zverev and Rafael Nadal, before stopping Dusan Lajovic in the championship.
Fognini is the eighth player to win his first Masters 1000 title over the past 17 events at the elite level. He rises to a career-high No. 12 in the ATP Rankings with the victory, becoming the first player to upset Nadal on clay en route to a title since Pablo Cuevas in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Mektic/Skugor Make Masters 1000 History: For the first time since the introduction of the ATP Masters 1000 series in 1990, an all-Croatian doubles team has lifted a trophy. Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor celebrated their first team title on the clay of Monte-Carlo.
It was a dramatic final victory for the Croatians, who rallied from a set down and saved a championship point to triumph 6-7(3), 7-6(3), 11-9 over Robin Haase and Wesley Koolhof. For Mektic, the win carried added significance considering he opened the Masters 1000 season with a title in Indian Wells, alongside Horacio Zeballos. The 30-year-old is now 3-0 in finals at the elite level, all with different partners.
Dusan's Dream: It was a 'pinch me' week for Lajovic, who streaked to his first ATP Tour title with aplomb. The Serbian did not drop a set en route to the championship, earning his first Top 5 win (d. Thiem) along the way. Despite falling in Sunday's final, he will ascend 24 spots to a career-high No. 24 in the ATP Rankings.
The fact that Lajovic had been battling a blister on his toe all week, adds to the legend of his Monte-Carlo campaign. The World No. 48 defeated Malek Jaziri, David Goffin, Dominic Thiem, Lorenzo Sonego and Daniil Medvedev to record five straight tour-level victories for the first time in his career.
Rafa Returns: Competing in his first tournament in one month, due to a right knee injury, Rafael Nadal streaked to the semi-finals at his happy hunting ground. The 11-time champion ousted Roberto Bautista Agut, Grigor Dimitrov and Guido Pella without dropping a set, before succumbing to Fognini on Saturday. It was just his fifth defeat at the Monte-Carlo Country Club and first to a player outside the Top 10 since 2003 (l. to Coria).
Daniil's Day: It was a week of upsets in the Principality. In addition to Fognini's victories over Nadal and Zverev and Lajovic's win over Thiem, Pierre-Hugues Herbert stunned 2018 finalist Kei Nishikori in the second round and Daniil Medvedev stopped top seed Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals. Medvedev earned his first win over a World No. 1 and the biggest win of his young career, breaking Djokovic five times for the 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win. The tour-level match wins leader in 2019, the Russian would extend his record to 21-7, en route to his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.
Sonego's Big Breakthrough: Qualifier Lorenzo Sonego turned in a Cinderella performance at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. The Italian reached his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final behind upsets of countryman Andreas Seppi, eighth seed Karen Khachanov and Cameron Norrie. He will ascend 30 spots in the ATP Rankings to a career-high No. 66.
Marco's Great Escape: It will go down as one of the great comebacks of the ATP Tour season. Marco Cecchinato had dropped the first eight games against Stan Wawrinka in their second-round meeting. But the Italian would not go down without a fight, storming back from 0-6, 0-2 down to prevail 0-6, 7-5, 6-3. His third-round finish matched his best result at an ATP Masters 1000 event.
Pella Power: While Nadal lost to Fognini in the semi-finals, he was pushed to the limit by Guido Pella a day earlier. The Argentine broke the Spaniard on four occasions in the first set, but was unable to cross the finish line. It was an impressive week for Pella, who outlasted seventh seed Marin Cilic in the second round and Cecchinato in the third round.
Showing Heart: When Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert hit his final forehand on Monday to defeat Fernando Verdasco, it was more than a typical victory; it was one full of emotion. The 28-year-old did not simply sign his name on the television camera, but he wrote ‘Notre Dame’ with a broken heart underneath it. Tragedy struck on Monday when the famous Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire, burning deep into the night.
A Royal Visit: A select group of ATP stars had the privilege of being received by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco at the Royal Palace. The Prince has long been an integral participant of the tournament, taking in the action every year and this year he welcomed Djokovic, Nadal, Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Felix Auger-Aliassime, David Goffin and Mischa Zverev.
ATP Stars Give Back: Former champion Stan Wawrinka and World No. 5 Thiem took the role of team captains in a fun-filled charity exhibition, benefiting the Monaco Red Cross. Alongside Wawrinka on his team of French-speaking players were Lucas Pouille, David Goffin and Medvedev. BNP Paribas Open champion Thiem was joined by Tsitsipas and Karen Khachanov.