Fabbiano Stuns Tsitsipas At Wimbledon
Entering Monday, Thomas Fabbiano had never won a set against a Top 20 opponent. But the 30-year-old Italian sprung a stunning upset, ousting sixth seed and tournament contender Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(7), 6-3 to reach the second round at The Championships.
A year ago, Tsitsipas needed just 91 minutes to dismiss the Italian in the third round at Wimbledon, losing only seven games in that encounter. But Fabbiano showed no fear on No. 2 Court, bouncing back from the disappointment of letting slip two match points in the fourth-set tie-break to triumph after three hours and 22 minutes.
"Last year his forehand was not the same. He improved a lot on his forehand. It's very uncomfortable. You basically have to guess where he's going to play," Tsitsipas said. "Last year was kind of easy, the easiest victory I had in Wimbledon. I played unbelievable in that match. Somehow, I didn't manage to get even close to that level that I played last year. I just saw a more improved, more solid player than he was last year."
It appeared Tsitsipas would rally past the veteran when he forced a decider. The #NextGenATP Greek saved the first match point in the fourth-set tie-break at 6/7 on his own serve, crushing a forehand into the open court. The 20-year-old staved off another at 7/8 by coming to net to put pressure on Fabbiano.
But instead of getting down on himself, Fabbiano remained calm, saving three break points in his first service game of the fifth set. Then from 2-3 down, he won the final four games of the match, breaking Tsitsipas' serve twice, to move to 4-0 in five-setters and earn a second-round clash against 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic.
Fabbiano has massively turned around his season over the past two weeks. After winning his first two matches at the Australian Open, he lost 10 consecutive tour-level matches. But at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne, he made his first ATP Tour semi-final. Now, he will have a chance to advance to the third round at Wimbledon for the second straight year.
Tsitsipas had not previously lost a major match to an opponent ranked as low as World No. 89 Fabbiano. The Greek, who made his first Grand Slam semi-final at this year's Australian Open, has won two ATP Tour titles this season (Marseille, Estoril).
Fabbiano's next opponent, Karlovic, is the oldest player to win a match at Wimbledon since Ken Rosewall in 1975. The Croat, who has now made the second round at every major this year, beat Italian Andrea Arnaboldi 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(4). The 40-year-old hit 21 aces and did not face a break point in the match.
The highest-ranked player in that section of the draw is now No. 11 seed Daniil Medvedev, who beat Italian veteran Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 7-6(2), 7-6(2) in two hours and eight minutes. The Russian has now won at least one match in all three of his appearances at The Championships, advancing to the third round last year.
Medvedev and World No.1 Novak Djokovic are tied fourth on the ATP Tour this year with 29 tour-level wins. The 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier captured his fourth title in Sofia. He will next face #NextGenATP Aussie Alexei Popyrin, who ousted former Top 10 player Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6(2), 7-5, 6-2.
British No. 1 Kyle Edmund got off to a good start on Centre Court in front of his home crowd, defeating 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Jaume Munar 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. The No. 30 seed will face a stiff test in the second round against 2013 Wimbledon quarter-finalist Fernando Verdasco, who beat Poland's Kamil Majchrzak 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
No. 21 seed David Goffin, who advanced to the NOVENTI OPEN final in Halle (l. to Federer), cruised past left-handed American Bradley Klahn 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up will battle Jeremy Chardy next, after the Frenchman ousted Slovakian Martin Klizan 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-4.