Read & Watch: Tsitsipas, Cilic Roll In Roland Garros Openers
Stefanos Tsitsipas, a favourite to make a deep run at Roland Garros, brought his aggressive brand of tennis to his opening match in Paris on Sunday to advance 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(4) against Germany's Maximilian Marterer, who made the fourth round here last year.
The sixth-seeded Tsitsipas won 17 of his 22 net points (77%) and broke the German four times on Court Philippe-Chatrier. Tsitsipas reached his second ATP Masters 1000 final earlier this month at the Mutua Madrid Open, before falling to No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
“Very satisfied. I was playing really well the first two sets of the match. Better than I thought I would. Third set was tricky. I felt like he started pressing more, started going for his shots more, faster, stronger,” Tsitsipas said. “I stayed mentally strong and closed the tie-break at the end.”
It's only the second time Tsitsipas, 20, has made the second round in Paris, as he backed up his second-round showing from last year. The Greek will try to extend his stay when he next faces Hugo Dellien, who became the first Bolivian to win a Grand Slam match since Mario Martinez at 1984 Roland Garros with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 victory against Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran.
“I have to take it match-by-match. If I think too far, things might turn out to go reverse and go the other way around,” Tsitsipas said. “So I don't want to think that far. Obviously I want to stay here as long as possible, because the vibe of this tournament is nice. So let's just take it step-by-step.”
Two-time quarter-finalist Marin Cilic easily avoided the upset bug with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 win against Italian Thomas Fabbiano of Italy. The Croatian, who has made the last eight here the past two years, hit 13 aces and won 87 per cent of his first-serve points to dismiss the 30-year-old Fabbiano, No. 98 in the ATP Rankings.
Cilic will be pleased to have advanced in straight sets. The Croatian has endured an up-and-down season, going 8-7 before Sunday and falling outside the Top 10 (13).
“I would have wanted obviously to play few more matches in these tournaments. I had a couple of OK tournaments and a few losses,” Cilic said. “But in this week, I focused a lot just to have good intensity in the training, to have good focus. It's important when you come to the Grand Slams that you are focused every single session, that you can keep going on like that.
“Happy with the level that I produced today in the first match.”
Cilic had lost in the first round three times in Paris, including as recently as 2016 to Argentina's Marco Trungelliti. But the 2014 US Open champion is one of only six men in the draw who has won a Grand Slam and will look to play his way into good form during the first week.
He will next meet Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who hung on to beat Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 6-3, 6-0, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-4. Dimitrov faced a break point while serving it out at 5-4 in the fifth but erased it and celebrated victory two points later.
“I lost the focus,” Dimitrov said. “But overall it was great to win that match. This is what I have waited for, to win matches like that. In the past months, all those matches have gone the other way around for me. And I just felt that this time, at the important moment, I really stepped up.”