Tsitsipas Beats Felix For First Time In Shanghai
Isner close to 1,000 aces for the season
Stefanos Tsitsipas recorded his first win over fellow #NextGenATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime on Wednesday for a place in the Rolex Shanghai Masters third round.
The sixth-seeded Greek, who is next in line to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in November, broke down the Canadian’s game for a 7-6(3), 7-6(3) victory in two hours and three minutes on the main show court. Tsitsipas will challenge Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz on Thursday.
"I knew it's going to be tough, and it was very tough," said Tsitsipas. "I think, mostly, the concentration that I have put and the work that I have put into that match, I still felt like I had to put a lot in order to get that outcome at the end."
With less than five weeks to go until the season finale, to be held at The O2 in London, Tsitsipas, the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals champion, added 90 points to his 2019 ATP Race To London tally (sixth place) for 3,460 points overall. Auger-Aliassime, now 33-22 on the season, clinched his place at the Next Gen ATP Finals in November on Tuesday.
Two groundstroke errors cost Auger-Aliassime in the fourth game of the first set and, soon, Tsitsipas came within one point of a 4-1 lead. However, aggressive play from Auger-Aliassime saw him recover to 2-3. The 19-year-old Canadian saved two set points at 5-6, 15/40 with an unreturned serve and a smash, but from 3/3 in the tie-break it was all Tsitsipas.
Auger-Aliassime won 13 straight service points from 2-2, 0/15 to 5-5, 30/0 in the second set. Tsitsipas gained a foothold and Auger-Aliassime soon found himself hitting a second serve at 30/40, but Tsitsipas netted a return and two further break point opportunities were saved. Inevitably, the second set was decided on a tie-break that turned when Auger-Aliassime hit a forehand into the net to hand Tsitsipas a 5/3 advantage.
Tsitsipas is now 43-21 on the year, which includes two ATP Tour titles at the Open 13 Provence (d. Kukushkin) and Millennium Estoril Open (d. Cuevas). He also beat Rafael Nadal en route to his second ATP Masters 1000 final at the Mutua Madrid Open (l. to Djokovic).
"I know that in order to see my name among the [big] titles, I'm going to have to go through a lot of pain and a lot of hype and struggle," said Tsitsipas. "I'm honestly excited. I'm excited. I'm excited by the idea of trying to get there."
Earlier in the day, Matteo Berrettini continued to keep pace with David Goffin and Alexander Zverev in the 2019 ATP Race To London after a comprehensive 6-3, 6-3 win over Cristian Garin, a fellow two-time ATP Tour titlist in 2019, over 71 minutes. The Italian No. 11 seed will next play eighth-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, the 2016 Shanghai finalist, who beat Reilly Opelka of the United States 6-4, 7-5 in 89 minutes. Opelka, last week's Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships semi-finalist, hit 18 aces.
American John Isner hit 19 aces and lost only six of his first-service points (35/41) in a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Lucas Pouille of France. The No. 16 seed, who moves to within two aces of 1,000 aces for the 2019 ATP Tour season, will next play World No. 1 and four-time champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia or Canada’s Denis Shapovalov in the third round.