Andrey Rublev won his first Masters 1000 title on Sunday after beating Holger Rune in a three-set final in Monte Carlo.
Arsenal’s title hopes suffered a huge blow after the Gunners squandered a two-goal lead to be held by West Ham. The draw leaves Arsenal just four points ahead of defending champions Manchester City who have played one game less.
La Liga leaders Barcelona dropped points after being held by Getafe while Atletico Madrid continued their winning run after an Antoine Griezmann brace helped them beat Almeria.
Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for 17 April, 2023:
Rublev wins Monte Carlo Masters
Andrey Rublev said winning his first Masters 1000 trophy in Monte Carlo on Sunday was like a “fairytale” after the Russian battled past Denmark’s Holger Rune in three sets.
The fifth seed came from 4-1 down in the deciding set to defeat sixth-seeded teenager Rune 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 after one hour 34 minutes on the red clay of Court Rainier III.
The 25-year-old achieved the biggest win of his career after losing Masters finals in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati, both in 2021, to boost his confidence heading into next month’s French Open on clay.
“It’s a great feeling. Today I handled my emotions really well,” said Rublev.
“After struggling so much, so many times, losing in the finals, semi-finals, losing even earlier, to win first 1000 Masters and finally I did it.
“To win a match like this, losing 4-1, Love-30, breakpoint for 5-1, and to be able to come back and to win is like a fairytale today,” said the world number six, who blasted down 33 winners on the way to his 13th career title.
Deprived of his national flag after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the player from Moscow thanked the crowd for their support.
“Coming from the country where I come from, to receive such international support, it is enormous,” he said.
Arsenal suffer setback
Arsenal blew a two-goal lead for the second game in a row as Bukayo Saka’s penalty miss proved crucial in the Premier League leaders’ damaging 2-2 draw against West Ham on Sunday.
Mikel Arteta’s side struck twice in the first 10 minutes at the London Stadium thanks to goals from Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard.
But just seven days after squandering a 2-0 advantage in their 2-2 draw at Liverpool, the Gunners again cracked under the pressure of the title race.
Said Benrahma’s penalty reduced the deficit for West Ham before the interval and after Saka fired his spot-kick wide early in the second half, Jarrod Bowen volleyed in an equaliser for the struggling hosts.
It was a hammer blow for Arsenal, who sit four points clear of second-placed Manchester City but have ceded the title race momentum to Pep Guardiola’s team.
City had closed within three points of the Gunners after beating Leicester 3-1 on Saturday and it is the champions who have the destiny of the title in their hands despite trailing Arsenal for much of the season.
City, who have won their last 10 matches in all competitions, have a game in hand on Arsenal.
With a home game against Arsenal looming on April 26, City know they will lift a fifth title in six seasons if they win their remaining eight matches.
By the time Arsenal travel to the Emirates Stadium they will be seven points clear of City if they beat bottom-of-the-table Southampton on Friday.
Yet that gap would still look uncomfortably small to Arsenal fans fearing their team are in the process of wasting a golden opportunity to win a first title since 2004.
While City are battle-tested in handling the tension of the title race, Arsenal’s young squad look to be suffering an ill-timed attack of nerves.
La Liga leaders Barca drop more points
A subdued Barcelona could not break down Getafe in a 0-0 draw on Sunday, dropping more points but still sitting 11 clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.
Third-place Atletico Madrid beat Almeria 2-1 at home with Antoine Griezmann netting a brace as he continued his sparkling form.
Valencia sunk deeper into the relegation mire with a 2-0 home defeat by Sevilla, who host Manchester United in the Europa League on Thursday.
Champions Madrid beat Cadiz on Saturday to cut back Barcelona’s lead, and with nine games remaining it seems highly unlikely they will catch Barcelona – but Xavi Hernandez’s side are limping over the line.
Barcelona drew 0-0 at home against Girona on Monday and followed that up with a second consecutive stalemate, the team still wallowing after their Copa del Rey semi-final thrashing by Madrid earlier in April.
The one positive for Barca was a 22nd clean sheet of the season in the top flight, with Getafe, 15th, not creating much danger.
Xavi’s side are still firm favourites to lift the title for the first time since 2019, but should they stumble at home against Atletico next weekend, doubts could creep in.
Atletico stayed two points behind Real Madrid with a narrow win over Almeria, 17th, which should have been more comfortable than it proved to be.
Antoine Griezmann headed Atletico ahead in the fifth minute when Angel Correa nodded on a corner to the back post.
Diego Simeone’s side were dominant throughout, but Almeria pulled level when Leo Baptistao’s shot deflected in off Jose Gimenez.
Griezmann sent the Rojiblancos ahead again before the break, finishing clinically from Yannick Carrasco’s pass at the end of a fine team move for his 11th league goal.
With text inputs from AFP
Updated through the day