© VCG/China Open

Stefanos Tsitsipas records his 40th match win of 2019 with victory over defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili on Thursday in Beijing.

Tsitsipas Beats Defending Champion Basilashvili In Beijing

Greek converts his first break point at 12th time of asking

Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas ended Nikoloz Basilashvili’s hopes of retaining the China Open title on Thursday with a hard-fought 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 second-round victory in Beijing.

Tsitsipas, who will face American John Isner on Friday, is now the fifth player in 2019 to record 40 tour-level match wins, following in the footsteps of Daniil Medvedev (54), Rafael Nadal (48), Roger Federer (45) and Novak Djokovic (43).

The 21-year-old Tsitsipas did not add any points to his 2019 ATP Race To London tally with victory over Basilashvili, but he is in a strong position to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November. Tsitsipas, the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals champion, is in sixth position on 3,160 points.

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Basilashvili came through a tight opening set — hitting 17 winners and 17 unforced errors. The Georgian also saved six break points with an element of luck.

It wasn’t until the fourth game of the second set that Tsitsipas finally made the breakthrough on his 12th break point when Basilashvili, who struck five of his nine double faults in the game, fired a forehand wide.

While Tsitsipas saved one break point for a 4-1 advantage, the 21-year-old carried the momentum and from 5-3 in the second set he won three straight games. A third service break came in the seventh game of the decider.

Basilashvili committed 32 unforced errors in the second and third sets of the pair’s second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting (also 2019 Australian Open), which lasted two hours and eight minutes.

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