Tsitsipas Passes Ritschard Test
Stefanos Tsitsipas struggled to find his groove for much of his match against Swiss qualifier Alexander Ritschard at Wimbledon on Tuesday, but the fourth seed’s resilience was enough to complete a 7-6(1), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 first-round victory at the grass-court major.
The World No. 5 appeared to have taken control of an engrossing encounter after opening up a two-sets-to-love lead on Court 1, but an inspired Ritschard showed a high-class level to strike back in the third set. Some sublime shotmaking from the Swiss was not enough to overcome Tsitsipas’ consistency, however, as the Greek held his nerve to secure the win.
“Obviously it is great to be back [at Wimbledon],” said Tsitsipas in his on-court interview. “I have to congratulate Alexander for an incredible performance. I am sure we are going to see a lot of him.”
Even when he was on top, Tsitsipas had to stay alert in his first tour-level meeting with the World No. 188. Ritschard was particularly proficient at the net throughout the three-hour, 31-minute encounter, but Tsitsipas’ extra firepower on return proved decisive. The nine-time tour-level titlist broke the Swiss six times on his way to a Tour-leading 41st victory of the year.
The win comes just three days after Tsitsipas clinched his maiden grass-court title at the Mallorca Championships in Spain. He will hope to maintain his good run in the second round against Jordan Thompson, as he bids to reach the third round at SW19 for the second time.
“Absolutely [I feel confident],” said Tsitsipas. “Mallorca was a great tournament. The conditions there are a little bit different, much more hot and humid there. Playing on these courts, it’s like watery smooth. It doesn’t get any better.”
Tsitsipas lacked rhythm early on Court 1, where Ritschard raced ahead with a combination of clean baseline hitting and well-executed serve-and-volley tactics. Even trailing by a double break at 1-4, however, the Greek showed no sign of panic. He roared back with four consecutive games, going on to dominate the tie-break as his firepower from deep overwhelmed his opponent.
The disappointment of losing the opener appeared to take the sting out of the Ritschard game as Tsitsipas broke twice to secure the second set, but the 28-year-old Swiss was resurgent in the third. He showed some delicate touches at the net to earn a crucial break in the 11th game, and when he broke Tsitsipas again in the opening game of the fourth set the crowd sensed a comeback.
Tsitsipas immediately reclaimed the break to nullify that momentum, however, and he capitalised on two double faults from Ritschard in the 10th game to improve his match record at Wimbledon to 4-4.