Alejandro Davidovich Fokina scored the biggest victory of his career on Tuesday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters as he closed out eighth seed Matteo Berrettini 7-5, 6-3 to reach the third round.
Not only was it the 21-year-old Spaniard’s first victory at an ATP Masters 1000 clay-court event, it was Davidovich Fokina’s first win against a Top 10 player.
It was a long-awaited milestone for Davidovich Fokina, who went 0-4 last year in clashes with Diego Schwartzman and Alexander Zverev. The signs were already there, as Davidovich Fokina pushed both players to deciding sets in two of their contests.
“I’m very happy with this win. I’m very excited to defeat a Top 10 player,” Davidovich Fokina said in his post-match press conference. “Last year I faced a couple of Top 10 players and I came close, but I couldn’t close them out. But here I am improving every day, I’m playing better and better.
“I also knew that Matteo was coming back from an injury and he wouldn’t have a lot of rhythm. I was able to take advantage of that today.”
Davidovich Fokina put in a measured and consistent performance to defeat the World No. 10. He claimed 73 per cent of points behind his strong first serve, and broke the Italian three times. Berrettini showed flashes of his best tennis, working his way back after a rib injury forced him to withdraw from the fourth round of the Australian Open.
The Spaniard knew he had a big opportunity to pull off the upset with Berrettini contesting his first match since Melbourne. He was prepared to take his chances, something Davidovich Fokina admitted he has been working on.
The No. 58-ranked player revealed that a change in mentality has helped him find the winning momentum that’s propelled him up the FedEx ATP Rankings. He has posted an 11-6 record after the Tour resumed in August 2020, including his first ATP Tour semi-final at Cologne (l. Zverev).
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“Before, I used to be a much more hyperactive and anxious person,” he admitted. “I wanted to finish every point in three shots, but when you evolve as a player you realise that tennis is not about winning in three shots. It’s about staying mentally calm and feeling stable.
“You have to take advantage of your opportunities, but also acknowledge that there may be more opportunities to come if you can’t.”
Davidovich Fokina will hope to continue capitalising on his chances as he awaits the winner of Lucas Pouille and Alexei Popyrin for a shot at his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final.