Stefanos Tsitsipas Ousts Kokkinakis In Australian Open Epic - UBITENNIS
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Stefanos Tsitsipas Ousts Kokkinakis In Australian Open Epic

The world No.6 battled on court for more than four hours against a player who has only played three Tour matches in 18 months.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas (image via https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame a huge second round scare against Thanasi Kokkinakis to seal a place in the last 32 of the Australian Open.

 

The Greek tennis star had to come from behind to edge out the injury-stricken world No.No.267 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-1,6-7(5), 6-4, during what was a marathon clash at Melbourne Park. Tsitsipas, who dropped just four games during his opening match against Gilles Simon, found the going significantly tougher in his latest encounter. Nevertheless, he managed to prevail with the help of 78 winners against 46 errors and managed to break the Australian’s serve five times.

The encounter was only the third competitive match Kokkinakis has played since the 2019 US Open. Since then, the 24-year-old has been sidelined by both injury and the pandemic. He has been blighted by injury throughout his career but has been ranked as high as 69th in the world back in 2015.

“Thanassi is a great competitor and a great fighter. It was very difficult facing him today. He’s a talent who has huge potential. I am pretty sure he knows it himself. He just needs to take advantage of it and make the best of his career,” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview.
“He’s a great server, has all the weapons from the baseline. It was quite a difficult match.”

Tsitsipas’ biggest weapon against Kokkinakis was his serve as he remained unbroken throughout the match. Winning 86% of his first service points. Kokkinakis was also impressive behind serve but his occasional blips enabled the world No.6 to capitalise at times as he broke once in the second set followed by three more times in the third.

Trying to establish a stronghold in the match was a far from easy task for Tsitsipas who was unable to get a look at his opponents serve throughout the majority of the fourth set. Nudging ahead to a 5-4 lead and one game away from victory he elevated his intensity during a marathon Kokkinakis service game but still it wasn’t enough. Tsitsipas’ first match point occurred after a forehand from across the court landed out, however, he was unable to convert as they drew level once again.

Kokkinakis’ resistance eventually frazzled the mind of Tsitsipas who hit a duo of unforced errors during the second tiebreak to hand the Australian a 5-1 lead. Although he did recover to draw level again, the home favourite continued to play some inspired tennis. A serve out wide rewarded the underdog with a set point to force the clash into a decider which he converted after hitting a backhand down the line winner.

The titanic tussle continued into the decider with neither player being prepared to back down. Once again Kokkinakis delighted home fans by coming through another marathon service game which saw him save two break points to move ahead 2-1. However, two games later he was not as fortunate after hitting two consecutive errors to hand Tsitsipas a crucial break. Prompting him to drop his head in disappointment.

Back in the lead once again, Tsitsipas carefully manoeuvred his way to the finish line against a player who last played a five-set match at the 2017 US Open. Continuing to weather the storm he worked his way to match point opportunity number two more than an hour after his first after hitting a serve out wide which Kokkinakis returned into the net. Victory was then sealed with the help of another well placed Tsitsipas serve down the centre of the court which triggered another error.

I just want to go for an ice bath right now that is all I’m thinking,” the Greek proclaimed after playing for 272 minutes.

Tsitsipas will return to the court in two days to play Mikael Ymer in the third round. The Greek has been billed as one of the future stars of the sport to take over when the reign of the Big Three comes to an end.

“I think we are a great generation of players. There is so much variety and diversity among us so I think we are expected to see some good tennis in the next couple of years and it’s going to make it really interesting,” he said.
“I think it is going to be something more interesting than the top three right now.”

Coincidentally Ymer was a practice partner for Tsitsipas heading into the Grand Slam.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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