Tennis: Djokovic & Sinner Make Monte Carlo Semis

World No.1 Novak Djokovic beat Australian Alex de Minaur in straight sets 7-5 6-4 to reach the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters semi-finals on Friday. Djokovic is yet to win his first title of 2024 and will need to go through Norway’s Casper Ruud on Saturday to advance in the tournament.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t lost a set yet in this tournament, reaching the semi-final for the first time since he won in 2015. His win against de Minaur also makes Djokovic the oldest semi-finalist in the competition’s history at 37.

While the scorecard may imply that Djokovic won rather easily, the match was quite messy with both players breaking each other regularly. There were 8 breaks in all, five for Djokovic and three for de Minaur.

Tennis, Rolex Monte Carlo Masters, Novak Djokovic

The second set in particular was competitive as both players wouldn’t give an inch. Djokovic broke the Australian to go up 4-2 but de Minaur responded immediately, breaking back the next game. The set stayed on serve until Djokovic seized his opportunity at 5-4 to seal the match and book his place in the semis.

The match lasted a total of two hours and four minutes and allowed Djokovic to avenge his loss to de Minaur earlier in the year at the United Cup. He admitted after the match that he wasn’t playing his best tennis and would need to improve if he hopes to take the title. 

Djokovic hasn’t looked like himself this year, after losing in the semis to Jannick Sinner at the Australian Open and blowing out of Indian Wells in a loss against world No. 123 Luca Nardi.

Still, this tournament the Serbian has looked better, not losing a set in his matches against Roman Safiullin, Lorenzo Musetti, and Alex de Minaur. His semi-final against Casper Ruud should be favorable for Djokovic who holds a 5-0 record against him. Their last meeting came in last year’s Roland Garros final, which Djokovic won in straight sets.

Casper Ruud is coming off a three set victory against Frenchman Ugo Humbert 6-3, 4-6, 6-1. He is attempting to take down his first title since last year’s ATP 250 in Estoril and maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown.  

Sinner Beats Holger Rune For Spot In Semi-Finals

Meanwhile, second seed Jannik Sinner was able to overcome Holder Rune in his quarter final matchup, 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3, to advance at Monte Carlo. Rune had previously beaten Sinner in the semi-finals last year but this time the Italian was able to get the best of him to reach his fifth straight semi-final. 

Sinner took the first set and looked like he was going to have an early day, up 6-4 in the second set tiebreak. Rune was gutsy in his defense however, saving two match points before leveling the match with a cross-court forehand winner.  

The final set was going on serve until 4-3 when Sinner converted the big break point after Rune made a costly double-fault. He then held his nerve to serve out the match and continue his terrific streak in 2024.

Sinner will go on to face 12th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in his semi-finals. The Greek Tsitsipas beat Karen Khachanov 6-4 6-2 and has been looking good in the tournament so far. His record in 2024 however has been inconsistent, arriving at the tournament with a 11-6 win-loss record this year. What will give him confidence is his record at the tournament, winning the title in 2021 and 2022.

Sinner will be a big favourite in the semi-final and seems to be the player to beat at the moment. It seems very likely we could see a Djokovic/Sinner final which might even see the Serbian as an underdog.

Djokovic currently holds a slight edge over Sinner in their head-to-head matchup, winning 4 out of the 7 meetings. Sinner has won their last two meetings though, first at the Davis Cup semi-finals and then the Australian Open semis this year.

At only 22 years of age Sinner will celery have the younger legs behind him but you can never count out the player with the most Grand Slams of all-time.