Monaco: Andrey Rublev rallied from 4-1 down in the final set to beat Holger Rune 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 in the Monte Carlo Masters final on Sunday for the first Masters title of his career.
The fifth-seeded Russian clinched victory on his second match point with an ace, stood still for a moment to check if the ball was in and then lay on his back for several moments to savor the moment. The sixth-seeded Rune climbed over the net to go over and congratulate him.
“I don’t know what to say. Losing 4-1, 0-30, saving break points. Somehow I did it,” the 25-year-old Rublev said. “I was deep inside hoping (that) at least I would have one chance.”
Rune missed a golden chance to clinch a second Masters title after beating Novak Djokovic with a stunning comeback at the Paris Masters last November.
This time it was the opposite.
The 19-year-old Dane let the match slip and lost his nerve in the 11th game of the decider, hitting two balls out of the court in frustration.
“I was definitely in control in the third set ... didn’t manage to close it out,” Rune said. “Just got to see what I did wrong, what I can do better, and move on, because, you know, the most important tournament of the clay season is the French Open.”
The crowd jeered him when he hit the balls out and he sarcastically encouraged them to do so. But Rune double-faulted to give his opponent the chance to serve for victory and Rublev sealed a 14th career title.
Rublev had lost his two previous Masters finals — at Monte Carlo and Cincinnati in 2021 — but stayed focused.
“I remember the previous finals I was not mentally ready and, when I was losing, I was thinking no chance to win anymore, and I was mentally going completely down," Rublev said. “Today I was like 'OK, if you lose today at least please believe until the end.'”
Rune looked fresh despite finishing a tense semifinal against Jannik Sinner at 9:45 p.m. on Saturday.
He treated the crowd to a delightful sliced backhand drop shot in the sixth game of the first set and broke Rublev's serve with a heavy forehand winner for 4-2.
Rune saved four break points in the next game but Rublev took his fifth chance to pull back to 4-3 when Rune mis-hit a forehand long, and then held for 4-4.
Rune clinched the first set when Rublev misjudged a shot that landed right on the line and mistimed his return to give Rune a break point. He took it when Rublev's loose forehand was too long.
Rublev broke Rune and held to love with a second-serve ace for 2-0 in the second set. Rublev's aggressive approach troubled Rune, who needed to save two break points before holding the third game.
Rublev stepped it up and consecutive breaks of serve clinched a second set where Rune made 11 unforced errors.
After Rune broke for a 2-0 lead in the third set, Rublev seemed troubled by the bounce of the ball on court. But Rune saved two break points in a tight fourth game to hold for a 4-1 lead.
Rune changed racket at 0-30 down in the seventh game but immediately served a double-fault and Rublev let out a roar when he broke back to 4-3, as the match began to turn back in his favor.
Rune said the late finish on Saturday night may have had an impact.
“I didn’t have much time to recover,” he said. “I gave it all. Didn’t have any more in me. I did what I could, and I was very close. ”