Thu, 28 Sep 2023

Stefanos Tsitsipas holds off challenge to win opener in Paris

Field Level Media
29 May 2023, 02:40 GMT+10

Fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas, seeking his first career Grand Slam title, held off a comeback bid from Czech Jiri Vesely 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7) to win his opener Sunday at the French Open.

On the clay courts of Paris, the Greek took a two-set lead before Vesely broke his serve late in the third set to get back in the match. With Vesely up 6-3 in the fourth-set tiebreak, Tsitsipas fought off four set points and cashed in on match point on his opponent's serve to win in three hours, 13 minutes.

"He was a difficult obstacle today, I won't lie," Tsitsipas said of Vesely, who played his first tour-level match since the 2022 U.S. Open. "He gave me a hard time. I'm happy I overcame it in such a fashion. I was able to bounce back from all those difficulties that were being thrown at me constantly. Today's win is very important for me."

Tsitsipas was the sharper of the two on the day as he moved his record at Roland Garros to 19-6. He hit 58 winners and had 30 unforced errors, opposed to 31 and 37, respectively, for Vesely. He won 83 percent of the points on his first serve, compared to 75 percent for his opponent.

The Greek reached the finals in Paris in 2021, losing in five sets to Novak Djokovic after jumping out to a 2-0 lead.

He avoided a repeat of that outcome on Sunday.

"'Just keep going to the ball', that's what I kept telling myself," Tsitsipas said. "At times I was not going to the ball, staying still, waiting for it to come to me. So when I took charge, when I said 'I'm just going for it,' I think that was the moment when I made that switch and won the match."

Tough matches dominated early play on Sunday, with five of the first 12 contests going to five sets. Among the winners were No. 11 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia, who ousted Constant Lestienne of France, 3-6, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3, with No. 13 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland defeating David Goffin of Belgium 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

John Isner, known for his marathon matches at Grand Slam tournaments, fell to Nuno Borges of Portugal 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 7-6 (9) in a four-hour heartbreaker.

Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia eliminated Daniel Evans of Great Britain, the No. 20 seed, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

The only other seeded player in early action was No. 24 Sebastian Korda, who defeated Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in an all-American match.

--Field Level Media

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