Tsitsipas Sets Rublev Rematch
Greek saved two set points in second set
After falling to Stan Wawrinka in a marathon five-hour, nine-minute battle at this stage last year, Tsitsipas took his second opportunity in Paris with a two-hour, 26-minute victory. The Greek landed 24 winners and saved two set points in the second set tie-break en route to his 10th win in 12 matches this year on clay.
“The tie-break was very tense. The tie-break was where all the money was,” said Tsitsipas on court. “I am glad that I played good tennis and I didn’t panic. I stayed concentrated, stayed low-key and tried to take it point-by-point.
“I think it worked out pretty well at the end. I showed lots of discipline, lots of responsibility. It was a very responsible win in the second set and I am very happy with myself and the attitude that I put out on the court.”
Tsitsipas is building on the form he showed en route to the Hamburg European Open final two weeks ago. After rallying from two sets down in his opening match against Jaume Munar, the World No. 6 has now won three consecutive matches without dropping a set.
“I felt comfortable. I think Grigor can be very unpredictable and he has a great game, so coming into the match you don’t really know what to expect,” said Tsitsipas. “We have a similar style of play, so I knew that if I could be as aggressive as possible, play with my forehand and use my serve to create opportunities, they [would] eventually come.
“There was a very good, high quality of tennis from both of us. I managed to stay concentrated and press on my return games… My aggressiveness from my return games and my focus on every single point, at the end, rewarded me.”
The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion trails Rublev 0-2 in their ATP Head2Head series. Tsitsipas served for the Hamburg trophy against Rublev just eight days ago, but fell to a 4-6, 6-3, 5-7 defeat.
“We grew up playing together. [Andrey] has improved a lot… It is very important for me to take this opportunity and fight harder this time, maybe do something better… He's going to be difficult to play against. He has a very complete, solid game from all the departments," said Tsitsipas.
“He has improved a lot [on] his serve. He relies a lot on his power. He has very powerful shots. We share a similar game style, I would say. Mine would probably be more coming to the net, using a bit more the angles. He's a very challenging player to play against. I think he for sure brings the best out of me when I step out on the court to play against him.”
Dimitrov was attempting to become the 10th active player to reach the quarter-finals at all four Grand Slam events. The Bulgarian did not drop a set en route to the Round of 16, collecting wins against Gregoire Barrere, Andrej Martin and Roberto Carballes Baena.
Under a closed roof on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Dimitrov gifted Tsitsipas the perfect start with a series of errors in his opening service game. The Greek dropped just seven service points (22/29) in the first set and took the opener when Dimitrov failed to control a backhand return.
A tie-break was needed to decide the second set, which had few break opportunities. Tsitsipas gained an early lead as Dimitrov committed errors on his forehand, but he was soon forced to save two set points at 7/8 and 8/9. Tsitsipas saved the first with an attacking crosscourt forehand and reached 9/9 when Dimitrov fired wide with a forehand up the line. On his third set point, Tsitsipas hit a defensive forehand at the laces of his opponent to claim the set.
Tsitsipas carried the momentum into the third set, defending well to extend rallies and gain a 2-0 lead. The Hamburg runner-up finished the match with his third service break, as Dimitrov fired a backhand into the net.