Roland Garros, Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome have been the strongest ATP events on clay since 2009 when Madrid switched to clay and replaced Hamburg. Among the active players, only five could reach the semi-final at all of them, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka.
That all changed in Monte Carlo when Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced to the final four en route to his first Masters 1000 title, securing the last notable clay semi-final he needed to join the mentioned rivals on the exclusive list, just at 22!
Producing a wonderful week, the Greek won the title without losing a set in five matches, beating Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-3 in style in Sunday's final to lift his first Masters 1000 trophy. It was the third Masters 1000 final for the Greek and the first success, losing the previous two to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who both suffered early losses in Monte Carlo.
Thus, Stefanos secured the last prominent result at the ATP clay events he needed, looking good to fight for more trophies in Madrid, Rome and Paris in May and June. In 2019, the young Greek had three top-tier weeks on clay, winning the first title on the slowest surface in Estoril and advancing into the last four in Madrid.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is the sixth player with all four big semi-finals on clay.
Stefanos dethroned Alexander Zverev and toppled Rafael Nadal at Caja Magica to move into the final, losing it to Novak Djokovic in straight sets.
A week later in Rome, Tsitsipas beat Jannik Sinner and Fabio Fognini before Roger Federer withdrew before their meeting, sending Stefanos into the semis, where he would lose Rafael Nadal. In September last year, Stefanos lost a tight Hamburg final to Andrey Rublev, heading straight to Paris and hoping to recover for the Roland Garros first-round clash.
Tsitsipas came back from two sets to love down against Jaume Munar to start a memorable journey that carried him into the semi-final. Stefanos didn't lose a set against Pablo Cuevas, Aljaz Bedene, Grigor Dimitrov and Andrey Rublev, looking great on the court and setting the clash against Novak Djokovic.
The Greek gave his best to challenge the mighty opponent, saving match points to force a deciding set where Novak overpowered him to reach the final.