Defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas brushed aside Alexander Zverev on Saturday to set up a Monte Carlo Masters final against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, the conqueror of World No 1 Novak Djokovic.
Greek World No 5 Tsitsipas beat third-ranked Zverev 6-4, 6-2, showing no ill effects of a marathon quarter-final win over Diego Schwartzman which finished at 11:00pm on Friday.
“It was hard to resume today after a difficult match last night,” said 23-year-old Tsitsipas.
“My body was not at 100%, but I am very happy with the tennis I produced.
“I don’t know whether the long match gave me some rhythm, but I was able to play good tennis today. I’m happy with the level I was able to execute and come up with some good ideas on the court.”
He appeared fresher than Olympic champion Zverev who had also drawn deep on his reserves on Friday to beat Jannik Sinner in a quarterfinal that lasted 3 hrs and 7 minutes.
Zverev was the more under-powered of the two on Saturday.
Tsitsipas broke in the ninth game of the opener before reeling off four games in a row from 2-2 in the second set. The contest was over inside 75 minutes.
Davidovich Fokina, ranked 46th, reached his first career ATP final with a 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-3 win over Grigor Dimitrov.
“It was a difficult match. I had my chances in the second set, but Grigor played well and I was tired,” said the 22-year-old Spaniard, who knocked out Djokovic on Tuesday.
“I kept fighting, I wanted to see where my limits were.”
It was a roller-coaster afternoon for Davidovich Fokina who was a set and then 4-2 and 5-3 ahead in the second.
But he won just three of the next 12 points with two double faults as Dimitrov hit back.
The Spaniard then trailed 2-0 in the decider before racking up five straight games for 5-2. An ace on a second match point gave him victory.
“When I was a kid I was dreaming about this day,” said Davidovich Fokina who has also beaten Indian Wells Masters champion Taylor Fritz on his way to the final.
“The second set I had my chances, but I didn’t play very well. I was so tight and he just put the ball in. The tie-break was also tight. But I went to the bathroom and said that I want this win.”
Davidovich Fokina, who reached the last eight in Monte Carlo in 2021, will be aiming to win his first tour-level title on Sunday.
However, Tsitsipas, the 2021 French Open runner-up, will be favourite, owning a 2-0 career edge over the Spaniard.
The first of those wins came in Monte Carlo last year when Davidovich Fokina had to retire injured from their quarterfinal clash.
The second was in Rotterdam earlier this year, a tough three-set win.
“It’s going to take a little bit more,” said Tsitsipas on the challenge of facing the Spaniard.
“He’s on a good run, in a good rhythm. I’ve played him before, he’s a good opponent, I’ve had big battles against him and I’m going to try and be as ready as possible.
“I know he’s improved from before and I’m going to have that in the back of my head, to produce the best tennis that I can.”
Dimitrov, 30, was playing in his second semi-final in Monte Carlo, having enjoyed a run to the last four in 2018.