Tsitsipas Stuns Djokovic For Two Reasons To Celebrate
Greek records biggest win of career
Stefanos Tsitsipas had two reasons to celebrate on Friday at the Rolex Shanghai Masters: He beat World No. 1 Novak Djokovic for the second time and also qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals in November.
The sixth-seeded Greek recovered from a slow start to record the biggest match win of his career against Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in two hours and three minutes for a place in the semi-finals.
“It's the best comeback that I have ever had probably... It was a very difficult victory mentally too. I wasn't really thinking that long term that I have to win two sets. It just went step by step. It happened. I broke him, I won the set, I stayed there, broke him again, eventually I got the win at the end. I wasn't really thinking too much in the future, and I think that helped a lot."
PLAYERS TO BEAT EACH MEMBER OF THE 'BIG 3' IN THE SAME SEASON
|S. Tsitsipas||2019||Shanghai||Madrid||Australian Open|
|D. Thiem||2019||Roland Garros||Barcelona||Indian Wells, Madrid|
|D. Goffin||2017||Monte-Carlo||ATP FInals||ATP Finals|
|S. Wawrinka||2015||Roland Garros||Rome, Paris||Roland Garros|
|S. Wawrinka||2014||Australian Open||Australian Open||Monte-Carlo|
|J. del Potro||2013||Indian Wells||Shanghai||Basel|
|N. Davydenko||2009||Shanghai||Shanghai, ATP Finals||ATP FInals|
|A. Murray||2009||Miami||Rotterdam||Doha, Indian Wells|
|A. Murray||2008||Toronto, Cincinnati||US Open||Dubai, Madrid, ATP Finals|
Walking out onto court, Tsitsipas did not know he had already become the sixth player to clinch a spot at The O2 in London from 10-17 November, after Daniil Medvedev beat fellow contender Fabio Fognini of Italy. But the 21-year-old, who captured the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals crown last year, was clearly delighted when he was told. He will now look to improve upon an 0-4 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Medvedev.
“He has a very different tennis from most of the players that I have been playing against this year," said Tsitsipas. "He's a very mental player, I would say. So, this win over Novak is a boost. It does help. It makes me feel good about my tennis, about my game. Tomorrow is going to be a new challenge for me. I hope I feel well. I hope it's going to be a fresh, new Stefanos out on this court showing his best tennis and playing smart and making him play out of his comfort zone.”
With the loss, Djokovic trails Rafael Nadal (9,225) by 1,280 points in the 2019 ATP Race To London and the battle for year-end No. 1. Djokovic is aiming to finish the year in top spot for the sixth time (2011-12, 2014-15, 2018).
“[Stefanos] had the high-quality tennis and he played very well after his serve," said Djokovic. "He was backing up his serve with really good and aggressive first shots in the rally. I didn't make him defend enough. I just gave him enough time to really dictate the play from back of the court and he deserved to win.”
Djokovic came out firing on all cylinders to win 12 of the first 14 points for a 3-0 lead. It wasn’t until the seventh game that Tsitsipas created a first break point, which saw him over-hit a backhand. But it was a fast start from Djokovic, who won their last match in the Mutua Madrid Open final in May, that did the damage.
Tsitsipas’ level improved, but he could not break through in the second set until the final game, when Djokovic hit a double fault and then a backhand long on set point.
Tsitsipas continued to serve well, as the level of play increased in the decider. The Greek took a 3-1 lead after Djokovic hooked a forehand wide and did not look back. Two aces from Tsitsipas in the final game, which ended with a smash winner, earned him the biggest win of his career.
Tsitsipas’ previous best result by ATP Ranking came in May, when he beat No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the Madrid semi-finals. Tsitsipas has lifted two ATP Tour titles in 2019, at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille (d. Kukushkin) and at the Millennium Estoril Open (d. Cuevas). He last played in a Masters 1000 semi-final in May in Rome (l. to Nadal).
DID YOU KNOW?
There have been 26 players to beat the Big 3 in their career and of that group, 10 have accomplished the feat in a season. The 21-year-old Tsitsipas is the seventh active player on the ATP Tour and the youngest to beat the Big 3 in a season.
- Statistical research by Joshua Rey and Greg Sharko