Tsitsipas Shows Toughness To Oust Goffin, Reach Estoril Final
#NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas will try to win his third ATP Tour title on Sunday after defeating 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday to reach the final of the Millennium Estoril Open.
World No. 10 Tsitsipas, who was 44th in the ATP Rankings at this time last year, had to battle hard against the fourth-seeded wild card, breaking the Belgian's serve five times to triumph after two hours and 18 minutes in what was a physical battle.
"I fought very hard and gave my soul out on the court, which is the biggest pleasure in this sport," Tsitsipas said.
Seven of the match's 10 service breaks came in the second set. But Tsitsipas was in danger of going down a break early in the decider, serving at 1-2. The reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion faced a 0/40 deficit, but after hitting a big serve that elicited an error and two Goffin unforced forehand errors, he was able to hold onto his serve. And although Goffin saved two break points at 4-4 with strong aggressive play with his forehand, he missed another one to give Tsitsipas the decisive break.
"I was saying to myself while returning that I needed to stay aggressive, I needed to press as much as I could because otherwise I had no other option. I could not win this match by playing defensive tennis," Tsitsipas said. "I had to turn the whole thing around and start playing aggressive, risking a little bit more and I think at the end it paid off.
Tsitsipas has 22 wins this season, which is second-most on the ATP Tour behind only Daniil Medvedev (25). He is the second No. 1 seed in this tournament's history to reach the final, after Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta triumphed two years ago. It will be Tsitsipas' second clay-court ATP Tour final, also making it to the championship match in Barcelona last year (l. to Nadal).
"Clay is one of my favourite surfaces. It would be lovely to have a title on this surface," Tsitsipas said. "Estoril is just an amazing place, so it would mean even more owning something here."
Goffin falls just short of reaching his first final since the championship match at The O2 two years ago, but he will take confidence from pushing the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion in a back-and-forth match. The 28-year-old has lost both of his ATP Tour semi-finals this year against Tsitsipas, with his first defeat coming on an indoor hard court in Marseille.
"It's a special week. I finished in Budapest last Friday, took a flight early Saturday, played [here] in the afternoon. I lost on Sunday [in qualies], but had a chance to get in as a lucky loser," Cuevas said. "I've had a good experience, and I'm happy to be in the final."
Cuevas fell in the final round of qualifying to Italian Salvatore Caruso. But the six-time ATP Tour titlist avenged that defeat in the first round of the main draw and has not looked back since, reaching his first final since 2017 Sao Paulo.
It was not easy against Davidovich Fokina, though. The #NextGenATP Spaniard, who began the week without a tour-level win, pulled out his full bag of tricks, with plenty of drop shots and lobs, to take the lead. But Cuevas' physical play began to wear the teenager down, and the Uruguayan showed his hot shot capabilities as well, hitting a behind-the-back lob in the second set to stay in a point that he eventually won to break serve.
"He's a good player. He's so talented and so fast. But I think he was a little bit tired," Cuevas said. "He's dangerous. He hits good winners with the forehand, with the backhand, the drop shot and everything. I just stayed in the match, ran a lot and in the last set I took the opportunity."