Tsitsipas Topples Isner In Four Sets To Reach Second Week In Paris
Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas stood tall after dropping the opening set to John Isner, rallying for a 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-1 victory on Friday night to book a place in the fourth round at Roland Garros.
The Greek player was tested by the 6’10” American across four sets on Court Philippe-Chatrier, but he emerged victorious after two hours and 38 minutes to claim a tour-leading 36th win on the season. Tsitsipas, who reached the semi-finals here last year, also added a 19th clay-court victory to his 2021 count – the joint-most among all players, alongside Federico Delbonis.
After claiming his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Rublev), Tsitsipas has continued to tear through draws in the clay-court season. The FedEx ATP Race To Turin leader lifted another trophy in Lyon and held match point against Rafael Nadal in the final of the ATP 500 event in Barcelona.
By contrast, 31st seed Isner arrived in Paris after playing only one tournament on clay courts – but he made his mark at the Mutua Madrid Open with victories over Roberto Bautista Agut and Andrey Rublev on his way to the quarter-finals.
Into the fourth round for the third year in a row, Tsitsipas will face 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta for a spot in the quarter-finals. The Spaniard comfortably overcame Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 on Court Simonne-Mathieu earlier in the day.
The big-hitting American had Tsitsipas under pressure from the start as Isner raced through his service games. Isner dropped only five points across six service games, winning three of those games to love.
The Greek player faced break points in his opening service game, and it was an uphill battle from there when the American took his opportunities at 5-5. Dictating play with his forehand and successful forays to the net, Isner broke late in the set after earning a backhand error from Tsitsipas before sealing the set with an ace.
But the American’s first-serve percentage began to dip in the second set, giving Tsitsipas more looks at the big-server’s second delivery. After failing to convert on three break points after taking a 40/0 lead against Isner’s serve at 2-1, Tsitsipas found himself in danger a few games later. Tsitsipas, who has done well to keep his emotions in check all season long, got himself fired up at 3-3 as he saved a break point. That seemed to galvanise the Greek, who earned his first break on the Isner serve in the next game before closing out the set.
The fifth seed edged through in a tie-break to win a tightly contested third set. With both players serving at a high level – Tsitsipas won 95 per cent of points (20/21) behind his first serve, Isner won 92 per cent (22/24) – there were no break points on offer as they went into a decider. Tsitsipas went after his returns, and earned the decisive mini-break after a missed drop shot from Isner at 6/3 to take the set.
With Isner looking deflated after failing to take the third set, Tsitsipas raced through the fourth with two more breaks of serve. The Greek player closed out the match with 40 winners and 19 unforced errors, to Isner's 52 and 29, respectively.