Tsitsipas Cruises Past Cilic In Rome

Stefanos Tsitsipas passed an opening-round test against Marin Cilic 7-5, 6-2 to reach the fourth round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

“Sometimes I need to adjust my game and Marin is someone I respect a lot,” Tsitsipas said on-court. “I knew he was going to come out here and play his best tennis.”

The Greek improved to 28-7 this season, which tied him back up with Andrey Rublev for most wins after Rublev beat Jan-Lennard Struff earlier on Wednesday. Though Tsitsipas lost in the third round in Madrid, the World No. 5 is filled with confidence after winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. He’s also a former semi-finalist in Rome (2019).

Cilic is 0-11 against Top 10 opponents dating back to his 2018 Australian Open win over Rafael Nadal. He’s now 8-8 on the season.

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In a competitive first set, Tsitsipas pounced at 6-5 to break Cilic for the first time when it mattered the most. He had full control of the match from there with Cilic hitting 23 unforced errors to Tsitsipas’ 13.

“He made me move a lot,” Tsitsipas said. “It was quite tricky to adjust to that at the beginning, but towards the very end of the first set I stayed calm and I stayed resilient. I had to play deep on the returns and find solutions from the baseline rallies. Obviously, that worked well for me from 6-5.”

Tsitsipas next faces Matteo Berrettini, who beat John Millman 6-4, 6-2. The Italian will have the home-court advantage when fans return on Thursday. Tsitsipas feels right at home in Rome though, and enjoyed the scenery Pietrangeli stadium had to offer. 

“[Pietrangeli] itself is very beautiful; it’s one of the best courts on tour,” Tsitsipas said. “I feel like the atmosphere here is great. We’re surrounded by trees in the city and it’s very, very quiet which is important for tennis. And honestly, I can’t wait for the fans to come and fill in the stadium.”

Berrettini continued his great serving form from his final run in Madrid. He faced zero break points, giving him freedom to go for more on return games. He broke the Aussie to start the second set and ran away with the match quickly from there.

Since his debut in 2017, the World No. 9 has improved with each appearance in Rome, reaching the second round in 2018, the third round in 2019, and the quarter-finals in 2020. He will have a tough challenge next in Tsitsipas, who beat him in their only meeting at the 2019 Australian Open.

Djokovic, Tsitsipas & More Congratulate Serena On 1,000th Match

WTA legend Serena Williams is playing her 1,000th match on Wednesday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia against Nadia Podoroska. ATP stars Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Grigor Dimitrov, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev sent the former World No. 1 a message to congratulate her on the incredible achievement.

Novak Djokovic
Congratulations on your big milestone playing the 1,000th match in your career. Words cannot describe how much you’ve contributed to tennis in general, both the male and female sides. You’ve been an icon for this sport, thank you so much for everything you have done on and off the court and what you keep on doing. You inspire myself and many other players on both the men’s and women’s side. We are so excited to share the same era as you as well. Wishing you all the best champ, keep going and happy to still watch you on the court.”

Alexander Zverev
Congratulations on playing your 1,000th match, what an achievement! I think you’ve been on the top of the game for such a long time, you’re the greatest tennis player of all time. I have nothing but respect for you, you know that. But I actually can say we’re quite good friends, so it’s always fun hanging around you. We always have a good laugh. I hope we can still have you around for quite a long time.” 

Stefanos Tsitsipas
“Serena, this is exquisite. I would like to congratulate you on your incredible achievement in your career and hopefully you can go on and keep playing and reach 2,000 matches on the Tour. I’m your biggest supporter and I really hope you get to play with me mixed doubles one day. Why not?”

Grigor Dimitrov
“Serena, congratulations on your 1,000th match. [You are] one of my closest friends and always [are] there to support me through the tough times. But all I can say is that you’re a true inspiration to the sport and you have shown not only me, but everyone around what you are capable of. The achievements that you have reached and the achievements that you want to reach are truly amazing. Stay blessed and keep on playing this sport.”

Daniil Medvedev
“Hi Serena, congrats on your 1,000th match. That’s a huge achievement, something unbelievable. Hopefully I can see you play [another] thousand on the Tour, even if it’s not easy, but I wish you this.”

Andrey Rublev
“Hey Serena, what’s up? Congrats on your 1,000th match. This is amazing. The things you’ve achieved, it’s unreal. Good job. You know everything better than me!”

Tsitsipas On Leading Race: 'I’m Fighting For It Every Week'

Stefanos Tsitsipas has plenty to be excited about this week at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where he made the semi-finals two years ago. Despite a third-round loss last week in Madrid, the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion still leads the FedEx ATP Race To Turin.

“That’s great news that I’m still there. I’m fighting for it every single week,” Tsitsipas said. “I didn’t have a very good week last week in Madrid, but so far it’s looking good. I’ve been very consistent, which obviously helps being in that situation. I’m looking forward to performing the same way, doing better and perform even better in the future.”

The Greek star is also looking forward to playing on grass and hard courts later in the season and maintaining his form throughout. The 22-year-old is keen to adapt well to every surface.

“I want to be a complete player,” Tsitsipas said. “That’s important for my psychological state, knowing that I can play on every surface.”

After winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and reaching the final of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, where he held championship point against Rafael Nadal before falling short, Tsitsipas lost in the third round of the Mutua Madrid Open. Norwegian Casper Ruud, who eventually made the semi-finals, stopped him there.

“I think you can take the good and the bad things from every situation, whether that would be [losing in] the first round or winning a tournament. You can always come into the next week with something better. For me personally, obviously my opponent played better and it wasn’t meant [to be] for me to be that day. I took that opportunity to come here earlier, prepare, acclimatise to the new conditions.”

The conditions in Rome are closer to those in Monte-Carlo than they are to Madrid, where altitude makes it quicker. Tsitsipas is simply focussing on the task at hand and what he’s dealing with at the Foro Italico, where he will begin his run against former World No. 3 Marin Cilic.

“Tennis is different and that’s what I’m expecting this week,” Tsitsipas said. “It’s a new tournament, you never know who you’ll have to face, how ready you have to be. Every tournament has something unique and different to offer. Again, just staying humble, working my way up and seeing if things are going to work again.”

Did You Know?
Tsitsipas played doubles this week with his brother, Petros Tsitsipas. They lost on Tuesday against Lukasz Kubot and Franko Skugor.

Nadal, Thiem, Tsitsipas & More Stars Training Hard In Madrid

© Mutua Madrid Open

Rafael Nadal will begin his run in Madrid against countryman Carlos Alcaraz.

Eight of the world’s Top 10 players are competing

With the Mutua Madrid Open underway, the world’s best players, including Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas, are working hard in practice to prepare themselves for a big run at the Caja Magica.

Nadal is chasing a sixth title at the Spanish ATP Masters 1000 tournament, where he has lifted the trophy in 2005, 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2017. The top seed has been training hard with the likes of World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini and countryman Jaume Munar.

Other stars who have practised together this week include Thiem and Andrey Rublev as well as Tsitsipas and Sebastian Korda.

The stars have not just been working hard on the court, though. They have also been preparing their bodies, both to be ready for training and for the rigours of tough clay-court matches.

Players have shown a variety of excercises, from typical work with bands to football warmups.

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Tsitsipas: 'I Am Feeling Better On Court Than Ever Before'

Some players try not to pay too much attention to their FedEx ATP Ranking or standing in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin. But not Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is well aware of his success in 2021 leading into the Mutua Madrid Open.

“I wanted to have a good kickstart like this. So far it’s looking good. I’m [on] the right track,” Tsitsipas said. “It has helped me to be at the top of the [FedEx ATP] Race To Turin. It’s important to have such an important head start. Of course, it adds a lot to confidence and [I am] feeling better on court than ever before.”

Tsitsipas, the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion, leads the Race by 350 points over second-placed Andrey Rublev. The 22-year-old knows that if he hopes to maintain that position, he will have to continue playing impressive tennis.

“I have to get these matches going, produce better tennis. We’ll have to fight again. It’s a new week for me. It will [be] a new week for me in Rome. All these tournaments are important. They carry a lot of points,” Tsitsipas said. “These tournaments are kind of opportunities for me to pursue something better. Right now I’m in the lead of the Race to Turin, which is very important for me. I want to conserve that and finish the year perhaps in the top three. That would be a good, fair goal for me for this year.”

The last time Madrid was played, in 2019, Tsitsipas defeated Alexander Zverev and Rafael Nadal en route to his first ATP Masters 1000 final on clay. Now fresh off ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo and a run to the Barcelona championship, Tsitsipas will try to maintain his momentum.

“My expectations, I won’t lie to you, [are] to come as close to my result [from two years ago], which was [reaching] the final. I’m really pumped for this week, for the next week as well. I feel like I’m getting close. I feel like I can create opportunities and maybe get to [World] No. 4,” Tsitsipas said. “It’s something that has been in my mind. I don’t think there’s something wrong with [that], mainly because I’ve been working hard, I’ve been putting a lot of work in. I feel like that’s my opportunity to do something different.”

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Tsitsipas Extends Race Lead, Enters Year-End No. 1 Discussion

Tsitsipas was on the brink of upsetting Nadal in the Barcelona final, earning a championship point before the Spaniard rallied for his 12th title at the ATP 500 event. The six-time ATP Tour titlist was disappointed, but he took lessons from the experience.

“Probably that I will have to go for more at certain times during a match and not wait as much for him to give me something or wait for an opportunity from his side,” Tsitsipas said. “Sometimes I feel like I was too passive, thinking about it now. I could have risked a bit more. I could have probably done a few more unpredictable things that could have led to something different.”

Tsitsipas will hope to implement those lessons this week in Madrid, where he is the fourth seed and will begin his run against Nikoloz Basilashvili or Benoit Paire. The 22-year-old admits there is still plenty to improve.

“For sure, there is. I would like to be more consistent on my serve, play with a high percentage of first serves. I would like to see myself come more to the net and have a higher winning percentage on net points won,” Tsitsipas said. “Stuff like this is something that I’m aiming for, setting my attention towards these small details that will help me become a more aggressive and more complete player.”

Tsitsipas Extends Race Lead, Enters Year-End No. 1 Discussion

Stefanos Tsitsipas fell one point short of winning the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell on Sunday. However, the Greek has extended his lead in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, which determines the eight players who will compete at the Nitto ATP Finals in Italy from 14-21 November.

The recent Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion now has a 350-point lead over Andrey Rublev, who is in second. Tsitsipas is 520 points ahead of third-placed Novak Djokovic, who won this year’s Australian Open. Only 710 points separate Tsitsipas and the fourth-placed man in the Race, reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Daniil Medvedev.

FedEx ATP Race To Turin Standings

This is the first time since 2014 that a player outside the Big Three of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer has led the Race at this stage of the season. Seven years ago, Stan Wawrinka was in first, just ahead of Djokovic.

This year’s Race will determine who finishes atop the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings. Could Tsitsipas have a shot at year-end No. 1? It is not out of the question based on the 22-year-old’s form. 

Tsitsipas, the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion, is now 26-6 in 2021 and he has shown an impressive level of consistency, reaching at least the quarter-finals in all seven tournaments he has played. He also won both his matches as Greece’s No. 1 singles player at the ATP Cup, and four of his six defeats have come at the hands of Top 10 opponents.

But Tsitsipas is not the only rising star in the mix for year-end No. 1. Russians Rublev and Medvedev, who led their country to ATP Cup glory at the start of the season, are in second and fourth, respectively. Medvedev lifted the trophy in London last year and Rublev made his season finale debut. Rublev and Tsitsipas both have a 26-6 record to lead the ATP Tour this year.

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Nadal Completes Barcelona Dozen, Mover Of Week

Between those three and six-time year-end No. 1 Djokovic, the race for top spot is heating up, and another man might join the fray shortly to make the battle even hotter.

By winning his 12th Barcelona title on Sunday, Nadal has climbed 10 spots into eighth. The Spaniard is attempting to qualify for the season finale for the 17th consecutive year. With two clay-court ATP Masters 1000 events and Roland Garros coming up, the lefty will try to make it a five-way duel for year-end No. 1.

Breakthrough star Aslan Karatsev is currently fifth in the Race following his run to the final of the Serbia Open in Belgrade, where he upset Djokovic. Two years ago, the Russian finished in 271st place in the Race.  

Did You Know?
While the 2021 Year-End FedEx ATP Rankings will continue to potentially include some results from 2020 in a player’s rankings breakdown under the 24-month rankings system due to COVID-19, the 2021 Year-End No. 1 will be based off 2021 results alone (i.e., the FedEx ATP Race To Turin) and will continue until the end of the Nitto ATP Finals. This will ensure that the No. 1 accolade accurately reflects the world’s best performer of the 2021 calendar season.

Tsitsipas On Nadal: 'He Hates To Lose More Than Anyone'

Stefanos Tsitsipas has played difficult matches against Rafael Nadal before. But their Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell final was another example of why it is so difficult to put the Spaniard away.

Tsitsipas earned a championship point at 5-4 in the deciding set, but by the slimmest of margins Nadal staved off defeat and eventually triumphed 6-4, 6-7(6), 7-5 for his 12th Barcelona title.

“He’s a real competitor on the court. He hates to lose,” Tsitsipas said. “He hates to lose more than anyone else.”

It wasn’t necessarily the Spaniard’s shots that impressed the World No. 5 the most. It was Nadal’s resolve under the greatest of pressure. For three hours and 38 minutes — marking the longest ATP Tour match this season — Tsitsipas went after the top seed and tried to take it to him, but Nadal never cracked mentally.

“I haven’t seen anyone fight like this. He makes my life really difficult on court,” Tsitsipas said. “I’m there to accept those terms and play based on his desire to fight. It also makes me a better player and I can see myself reaching my limits. It’s definitely something good to have for my personal development and growth.”

Although at times Nadal was not at his flying best, when it mattered most, he refused to give anything away. Tsitsipas said: “He always gets an extra ball back. You never know for certain that the rally will be over. There is always one more ball coming back and there were a few [key] shots that I missed.”

Despite that, Tsitsipas was on the doorstep of glory. Nadal was well behind the baseline on defence on the Greek’s championship point. The legendary lefty struck a backhand that barely squeaked over the net, but found a way to turn around the point and, eventually, the match. Tsitsipas felt he was in control.

“I was able to stay patient and wait for my turn. That [5-4] game [when] I had the match point, I felt like I had it for some reason. It was the sensation that I could get that one,” Tsitsipas said. “I think I made the right choice [and] I went to the right place… it was the right decision and [I] just got a bit unlucky.”

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Nadal Saves M.P., Makes It A Dozen In Barcelona

The positive for Tsitsipas is that following his impressive run to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters title last week, he maintained his level and reached the final of this ATP 500 without dropping a set.

“That’s great news, it’s great stuff. I was looking for a win today. I felt like I was close and I felt like there were opportunities that I had and for some reason I didn’t take [them],” Tsitsipas admitted. “I felt I could have pulled off better tennis today, but I’m happy that I brought him so close. I was a match point up… that ball on the match point, I was literally two centimetres from winning that match.”

Although the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion would have preferred to depart Barcelona with the champion’s trophy, he will leave with an important lesson.

“That the match is never over. It’s never over until the very last point. That’s what I learned today,” Tsitsipas said. “It’s very close, but you have to sometimes maybe do something extra.”

Tsitsipas Saves 2 M.P., Pushes Nadal To Decider In Barcelona

© Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Stefanos Tsitsipas has reached three finals on the ATP Tour this season.

Greek unbeaten on clay this season

Stefanos Tsitsipas has forced Rafael Nadal to a deciding set in the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell final after saving two championship points to level the match at 4-6, 7-6(6).

The Greek charged to the net at 4-5, 15/40 to hold serve and recovered from 2/4 in the second-set tie-break to reach a third set. Tsitsipas is only the second player to take a set off Nadal in a Barcelona final, following in the footsteps of David Ferrer (2008).

Tsitsipas is aiming to become the first player to defeat Nadal in a Barcelona final (11-0). The FedEx ATP Race To Turin leader, who won his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters last week, owns a 9-0 record on clay in 2021 and entered the final with a 17-0 set record on the surface this year.

Nadal is aiming to repeat his 2018 Barcelona final win against Tsitsipas and avenge his five-set loss to the 22-year-old in the Australian Open quarter-finals in February. The 11-time champion owns a 6-2 ATP Head2Head record against Tsitsipas.

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Did You Know?
Nadal will return to No. 2 in the FedEx ATP Rankings if he claims the trophy in Barcelona.

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Tsitsipas Continues Hot Streak, Returns To Barcelona Final

Three years ago, Stefanos Tsitsipas made a major breakthrough at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell by reaching his maiden ATP Tour final at the ATP 500 event. The World No. 5 returned to the championship match on Saturday with a 6-3, 6-3 triumph against Jannik Sinner.

The reigning Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion saved all four break points he faced to improve his unbeaten record on clay this year to 9-0 and 17-0 in sets. Tsitsipas has now won 10 of his 12 matches at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona 1899.

“It was very close. It was a close match,” said Tsitsipas. “He had a lot of break point opportunities on my serve. It could have been different, but I stayed tough and I converted those break points [I had]. That was crucial and very important.”

After taking a 2-1 lead in his ATP Head2Head series against Sinner, Tsitsipas has now matched Andrey Rublev’s tour-leading total of 26 victories this season. Tsitsipas and Rublev are eight wins clear of their nearest ATP Tour rivals, with Sinner in third position on the 2021 wins list. As a result of his run to the final, Tsitsipas is also guaranteed to remain in first place in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin on Monday.

2021 ATP Tour Wins Leaderboard

In a repeat of the 2018 final, Tsitsipas will meet 11-time champion Rafael Nadal for the trophy. The 20-time Grand Slam champion charged past Marbella champion Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2 in 89 minutes. Nadal won the 2018 championship match 6-2, 6-1, but Tsitsipas rallied from two sets down in their most recent meeting at the Australian Open in February.

“It feels great to be back [in the final]. I will try to redeem myself from last time… [Rafa] is someone that I really respect and have always dreamed of beating,” said Tsitsipas. “The fact that I was able to do it this year pushes me to push myself… I feel like I need experiences like this to grow as a player. A final is always a very important phase in a tournament.”

In a tight opening set, both players were unable to convert early break points. Tsitsipas made the only breakthrough of the set at 4-3, when he attacked Sinner’s forehand to extract multiple errors and break serve. Sinner struck eight of his 11 unforced errors in the first set on his forehand side.

Tsitsipas targeted Sinner’s backhand corner to save two break points early in the second set, and he stuck by that tactic in the following game to move clear. The Greek, who was assisted by Sinner’s low first-serve percentage (52 per cent), pinned the Italian into his backhand corner and drove forehands into the open space to move towards victory. Tsitsipas broke his opponent for the third time in the final game to reach his third final of the season (1-1).

Sinner was also aiming to advance to his third final of 2021. The #NextGenATP Italian opened the year with a title run at the Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne and advanced to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 final earlier this month at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

Tsitsipas Beats Felix In Barcelona, Now Eight Matches Unbeaten

Former finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas extended his winning streak to eight matches on Friday for a place in the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell semi-finals.

The second-seeded Greek, who captured his first ATP Masters 1000 trophy at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Rublev) last week, produced another impressive performance to beat No. 10 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-3 in 83 minutes.

“I think my hard efforts paid off,” said Tsitsipas, who has now won 14 sets in a row. “I wouldn’t say it was the best start, but I managed to win my serve from 0/40 down [in the second game]. That got me into the match and that helped me to break him at the end. I didn’t panic, but I knew what I was doing. It feels good to be able to play the way I am. I really hope the winning streak continues.”

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Tsitsipas, who captured the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals title and went on to clinch the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals crown, will now face the youngest Barcelona semi-finalist in 16 years, Jannik Sinner of Italy. The No. 11 seed, who beat Andrey Rublev earlier on Friday, captured the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals trophy in Milan. Tsitsipas and Sinner at tied at 1-1 in their ATP Head2Head series, with both matches coming on clay at the 2019 and 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.

Tsitsipas lost just seven of his first service points against Auger-Aliassime (29/37), striking 11 winners and committing just nine unforced errors. The 22-year-old is now 25-5 on the season.

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Sinner Topples Rublev To Reach Barcelona Semi-finals

Auger-Aliassime appeared to be the stronger in the first four games, but could not convert three break points in Tsitsipas’ first service game. Tsitsipas slowly worked his way into the match and once Auger-Aliassime struck a forehand into the net to be broken in the fifth game, the Greek grew in confidence. Tsitsipas closed the 46-minute opener after Auger-Aliassime his a forehand long.

Another groundstroke error cost Auger-Aliassime in the fourth game of the second set and Tsitsipas stayed in control to complete his 25th match win of the season (25-5).

Auger-Aliassime, who is 2-15 against Top-10 opponents, drops to a 12-7 record on the year, which includes a runner-up finish at the Murray River Open in Melbourne (l. to Evans).