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Tsitsipas, eyeing Top 10 return, beats Safiullin in Acapulco opener

Ruud, Tiafoe advance in three sets
February 28, 2024
Stefanos Tsitsipas earns his first Lexus ATP Head2Head win against Roman Safiullin in the Acapulco opening round. By ATP Staff

Stefanos Tsitsipas, runner-up at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in 2021, avoided the first-round fate of of former finalists Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul by advancing on Tuesday at the Acapulco ATP 500.

The Greek extended his winning streak against players outside the Top 20 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings to 11 with a 6-3, 6-4 win against Roman Safiullin. It was Tsitsipas' first Lexus ATP Head2Head win against the World No. 39, following a straight-sets defeat in Marseille in 2022.

"It's one of those first rounds that you get good opponents and a very good, strong start from the beginning of the tournament," Tsitsipas said in his interview on centre court. "I knew that dealing with Roman, he's someone that can play good on these kinds of surfaces. He takes the ball early, pushes you back. That was the main thing I had to deal with today, which I did pretty well."

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The World No. 12 has moved up two places to No. 10 this week in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and can secure his place in the Top 10 of Monday's Pepperstone ATP Rankings by reaching the semi-finals.

After pledging to donate $1,000 USD per ace this week to the hurricane relief program in Acapulco, Tsitsipas hit five aces in his opening win and saved the lone break point he faced late in the opening set.

"[I was] serving well in those crucial, important moments," Tsitsipas added. "I didn't let him get in too much. I kept moving him around the court and did my job excellently when it came to depth and positioning."

Mid-set breaks in both sets made for a relatively stress-free outing for the Greek, who advanced to the semi-finals (2022) and final (2021) in his previous two Acapulco appearances.

Tsitsipas' next opponent will be Italian qualifier Flavio Cobolli, who beat Felix Auger-Aliassime 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the first round.

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On Grandstand, both fourth seed Casper Ruud and sixth seed Frances Tiafoe advanced in three sets.

Ruud did not face a break point in a 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3 win against Christopher Eubanks. The Norwegian, who was playing three days after losing Saturday's Los Cabos final to Jordan Thompson, is now 22-4 in his opening-round matches since the start of 2023.

 

Tiafoe roared back against Max Purcell for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory that hinged on the American's five break-point saves early in the second set. Tiafoe also saved two break points to open up a 2-0 lead in the third set before racing through the finish line to extend his winning streak against Australian opponents to six matches.

The 26-year-old Tiafoe is the highest-ranked American remaning in the Acapulco draw after Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul were both upset on Monday. He will next meet Germany's Dominik Koepfer, a 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 winner against French qualifier Terence Atmane earlier on Tuesday.

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