Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece defeated Casper Ruud of Norway 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday to win the clay-court Monte Carlo Tennis Masters final match for the third time in four years, in Monaco.

Tsitsipas sat holding his head in his hands, briefly crying as he took in his first title of the year and biggest tournament victory for two years.

“I’m very proud of myself today. I had been waiting for a moment like this for a long time.

“I did not know what was going to happen this week,” said the 12th-ranked Tsitsipas, who reached a career-high No. 3 ranking in 2021.

The big-serving Greek also won the title in 2021 and 2022 and this latest trophy at the Monte Carlo Country Club took him to 11 career titles overall.

“It has been very difficult, so to be back on the podium, winning tournaments, just feels amazing.

“The third time is even more special than the first or second time. This is an unbelievable win for me. Capturing that win today was nerve-wracking, I really wanted this trinity,” Tsitsipas said.

According to AP News, it was his first trophy since August last year, when he won a modest ATP 250-level tournament on outdoor hard courts at Los Cabos in Mexico.

This was much more prestigious and he shared a warm hug at the net with Ruud, who is chasing his first title of the year and remains stuck on 10 overall.

The match featured former French Open runner-ups and offered an early indication of form heading into the clay-court major at next month’s Roland Garros.

Tsitsipas was an outsider coming into this tournament, where he was seeded 12th.

But he got the better of Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner in the semifinals, handing him only his second defeat of the season to set up a perhaps unexpected final against Ruud, who beat top-ranked Novak Djokovic in Saturday’s other semi.

Tsitsipas took an early control.

He broke Ruud’s serve and held for 3-1, then secured another break of serve when eighth-seeded Ruud flapped a loose forehand into the net from the back of the court. A nervous-looking Ruud double-faulted on set point.

Ruud improved in the second set and pressured Tsitsipas, who saved three break points and took 13 minutes to hold serve in a tough seventh game.

That seemed to be Ruud’s last chance while also summing up his erratic match, where he made too many unforced errors and failed to convert any of his eight break-point chances.

Tsitsipas hit an ace to win his next service game, leaving Ruud needing to hold serve to stay in the match.

An unforced error at 30-30 saw Ruud patting a straightforward-looking backhand long to offer Tsitsipas a first-match point.

He seized the moment.

Tsitsipas dominated a brief rally and clinched victory with a forehand winner, then slid on his back with his arms outstretched and put his hands on his face.

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“I managed the point relatively well and finished it with the winner,” Tsitsipas said. “I showed some ruthless tennis. From the beginning to the end, my play was cohesive.”

Tsitsipas will improve to No. 7 when the ATP rankings are released on Monday.

Earlier, Casper Ruud had beaten Novak Djokovic to set up Stefanos Tsitsipas final, and BBC reported that Novak Djokovic says he is “not having a great season at all” after losing to Casper Ruud in the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters.

The world number one’s 6-4 1-6 6-4 loss to Norway’s Ruud follows a third-round exit at Indian Wells and a semi-final loss at the Australian Open.

The 36-year-old Serb is still searching for his first title of the year.

“Not having a title is, compared to the last 15 years, not a great season at all,” he said.

“There are positives to take away for sure, but I’m used to a really high standard in terms of expectations and results.”

Djokovic, who has an 11-4 record this year, also lost while playing for Serbia in the quarter-finals of the United Cup in January.

He will hope to win a record-extending 25th Grand Slam title at next month’s French Open.

Against Ruud in Monte Carlo, he double-faulted on Ruud’s match point to confirm the result and end a nail-biting deciding set.

World number 10 Ruud was scheduled to take on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final after the Greek player beat Jannik Sinner 6-4 3-6 6-4 earlier in Monaco.

Ruud cruised to victory in the opening set, ensuring Djokovic dropped his first set of the tournament, but the top seed fought back well.

The third set swung back and forth but having got himself back into the game on serve at 5-4 down, Djokovic double-faulted to hand Ruud victory.

Meanwhile, Tsitsipas, a two-time winner in Monte Carlo, booked his spot in the final after two hours and 48 minutes of play against Sinner, who lost for just the second time this year.

The match swung in the deciding set when Sinner, who was on the brink of a double break at 3-1, saw an incorrect call go against him.

The line judge failed to call Tsitsipas’ shot out and Sinner failed to stop to review the call, which would have put him 4-1 up.

The Italian failed to recover psychologically, and Tsitsipas won four games in a row from 4-2 down to earn his big win.

“It was tennis at its highest level that I have been able to play,” said Tsitsipas.

“He is one of the toughest opponents I have faced so far and to find ways when there weren’t that many, I am proud of that. He gave me a very difficult game and [the] way I overcame it is true excellence.”