Tsitsipas Staves Off Upset Bid In Basel
Stefanos Tsitsipas avoided an upset bid on Thursday at the Swiss Indoors Basel, rallying past Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals of the ATP 500 tournament. It is the Greek’s 13th quarter-final of the season, equalling Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut for the ATP Tour-lead.
Berankis has not made an ATP Tour quarter-final since Dubai, but the World No. 70 had momentum on his side against Tsitsipas, leading 7-6(4), 1-0 and earning a 0/30 advantage on Tsitsipas’ serve. But the third seed maintained his composure, and dominated his service games the rest of the match to triumph after two hours and one minute.
"I think in the first set I kind of lost the momentum and the tempo in the tie-break. I didn’t feel very comfortable. Perhaps my return was something that kept me doubting and not really playing with psychological strength," Tsitsipas said. "I did manage to stay calm and I think the second set was perfect. I did manage to break him twice. This gave me extra confidence on pursuing something similar in the next couple of games. I got the early break and managed to hold my serve in the entire rest of the set."
After reaching the Citi Open semi-finals in August, Tsitsipas lost five of six matches and appeared to be struggling for form. But the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion, who has booked his spot at the Nitto ATP Finals 10-17 November for the first time, has bounced back well over the past month. The 21-year-old made the China Open final and the Rolex Shanghai Masters semi-finals, and that confidence showed in his victory against Berankis.
After some uncharacteristic errors from Tsitsipas allowed the Lithuanian to earn the first set, the Greek buckled down and raised his level. Although Berankis played inspired tennis and competed well with the World No. 7, Tsitsipas’ variety of weapons proved too much to overcome in the big moments. On his first match point, Tsitsipas fired a cross-court forehand that Berankis could not handle, celebrating with a fist pump.
"I’ve been experimenting the past couple of days with a few things in my game, so I knew there might be some downs during the match. I did stay calm, because I knew I was playing my game, but I was trying a few things that I haven’t tried in the past," Tsitsipas said. "That paid off at the end. I was risking a bit more, I was going for more. I was making more mistakes than usual, but I think going for a bit more and trying to show him that, 'I’m here, I’m going to come to the net, I’m going to be more aggressive', it was crucial."
Tsitsipas only faced one break point in the match, and he won 75 per cent of his second-serve points, preventing Berankis from going on the offensive unless he did so from tough positions. The Greek will next face Serbian Filip Krajinovic, who eliminated ATP Race To London contender Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-4.
The defeat deals a blow to Fognini's London dreams, as the Italian is in 11th place in the Race, trailing countryman and eighth-placed Matteo Berrettini — who is still alive in Vienna — by 290 points.
Berankis was trying to claim his third Top 10 win (2-10), with his two previous triumphs coming against Milos Raonic, including a first-round upset in Basel three years ago. If Berankis defeated Tsitsipas, it would have been the fourth straight year in which a qualifier had made the quarter-finals or better in Basel.