Tsitsipas Outhits Auger-Aliassime In Acapulco Thriller

Ruud walkover sends Zverev through to semi-finals

Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas found his best tennis under pressure to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime in a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 thriller on Thursday and reach the semi-finals at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC.

Tsitsipas arrived in Acapulco looking to build on a streak of solid results, including a semi-final run at the Australian Open and the AMRO ABN World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The Greek player will meet #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti for a shot at his first championship match of 2021. Musetti reached his first ATP 500 semi-final with a 6-4, 7-6(3) triumph against fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov.

“We both played unbelievable tennis from the beginning to the end. The quality and intensity was at its highest,” said Tsitsipas. “It got tricky from time to time with a few breaks in the first and second sets… Towards the very end, I think I got a bit lucky but I was also very persistent.”

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The top seed was up against familiar rival Auger-Aliassime in their fifth tour-level clash. The pair have known each other since their junior days, when the Canadian owned the rivalry over Tsitsipas. But Tsitsipas has been increasingly dominating their matchup at the tour level; he has now won three matches in a row to take a 3-2 lead in their ATP Head2Head record. 

“[Felix] knows my game better than any opponent out there. We have been playing [each other] since the age of 12,” said Tsitsipas. “I wasn’t the one winning in the beginning, but it is great that I have developed into the player that I am and he has done an unbelievable improvement. [It is] always a challenge facing him. We do have a history and I really hope that we build a rivalry that is going to be much remembered in ATP Tour history.”

Seventh seed Auger-Aliassime made the perfect start and broke Tsitsipas’ serve in the opening game. But the Greek player needed a few games to heat up, and once he did he fired a stinging passing shot to claim the break back at 3-3. That would set the tone for the high-quality encounter, with Tsitsipas winning the last six points of the set with highlight-reel worthy winners.

Both players were deadlocked after splitting sets, and the first seven games of the final set went the way of the server. But under pressure, it was Auger-Aliassime who blinked first and back-to-back double faults handed Tsitsipas the crucial break, giving him a 5-3 lead. 

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Earlier in the day, Dominik Koepfer earned a spot into his first ATP Tour semi-final after edging past Cameron Norrie in straight sets. There was not much to separate the players across a tightly-contested hour and 48 minutes, and the German needed five match points to seal the 7-5, 6-4 victory.

“I had four match points on his serve, but I couldn’t get it done,” Koepfer said. “I got a bit tight, I’m not going to lie. I was nervous and I knew I would have to make a lot of first serves. It was a huge relief after such a good week so far. I’m really excited to play again tomorrow.”

Koepfer will take on countryman Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals. The second seed received a walkover from Casper Ruud on Thursday, with the Norwegian citing a right wrist injury. Zverev is seeking his 14th ATP Tour title and his first in Acapulco after reaching the final in 2019.