Stefanos Tsitsipas battles past Felix Auger Aliassime to reach semis in Acapulco - UBITENNIS
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Stefanos Tsitsipas battles past Felix Auger Aliassime to reach semis in Acapulco

The Greek number one seed is through to the semi finals after beating his Canadian rival in a thriller.

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

Stefanos Tsitsipas is into the semi finals of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel Open in Mexico after beating Felix Auger Aliassime in a three set marathon 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and five minutes.

The world number five hit 20 winners was a perfect three for three on breakpoints. It is the third time this season Tsitsipas has reached the semi-finals of a Tour event after the Australian Open and Rotterdam. This week he is seeking his first title in 13 months.

 

“We both played unbelievable tennis from the beginning to the end, the quality and the intensity was at its highest,” Tsitsipas commented on his latest win.
“It got tricky from time to time, a few breaks in the first and second set, the third set I had a bit of luck in it towards the very end. I got a bit lucky but I was also very persistent, I saw a pothole, things worked out really well for me.’
“I am really blessed that I am able to play in front of a unbelievable crowd, every single match is a pure blessing,” he added.

To add a bit of context to the story both Tsitsipas and Auger Aliassime know each other well because they started playing in juniors when they were 12 years old and that has now turned into a rivalry.

It was the Canadian who got off to a fast start earning three breakpoints in the very first game putting early pressure on the Greek serve and would break with an outstanding return winner to take an early 1-0 lead.

It stayed on serve until 3-2 when the world number five staged a comeback and earned three break points of his very own and would break the following point with an amazing passing shot to level the set at three.

Again both players held serve until 6-5 when once again the Greek number one seed had three set points thanks to an incredible passing shot once again and would take the set winning the next point with an incredible rally forcing the Canadian to send a ball out.

The second set was a little more straight forward with the Montreal native earning the first break opportunity at 1-1 and would break with a sublime volley winner to take a 2-1 lead. That one break was enough for him to serve out the set to take 6-4 and send the match into a deciding third set.

For the first six games of the final set neither player blinked on serve until 4-3 when the world number 18 seemed to feeling the pressure and double faulted twice in a row to give the Athens native three breakpoints.

He would earn the crucial break winning the next point with a stellar forehand and served out the match in style to set up a semi final match-up with Italian rising star Lorenzo Musetti. Musetti knocked out world No.16 Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 7-6(3).

After the match Auger-Aliassime spoke about what he could improve on in his game from here on out.

“I felt sometimes I could have moved better today and could have broken through with my forehand a little bit more, that last game I served terribly so but overall my serve was good, It’s kinda circumstances matches where the first set could have fell on my side, on his side, I feel like I am at a similar level than him, somedays it goes on his side somedays on mine so hopefully next time I get my chance and take it”

Meanwhile, In his post game press conference Tsitsipas added more to his thoughts on the match and the win.

” It was a high-intensity match from both sides we both played incredible tennis I think, serving well both of us, got a few breaks in the first and second set but it was tight and felt really intense, it felt like it was growing bigger and bigger during the entirety of the match and I would say I got a bit lucky towards the end, two double faults from the Felix ( Auger-Aliassime) side but that was something he had to deal with as well part of the pressure I would say, mostly proud of the way I fought back, it was responsible and well-executed, generally I think I learned from it, it’s a good match to have in my portfolio, a good match to have in my ATP history, and it’s an important rivalry with Felix and many more to come

In other matches Alexander Zverev didn’t even need to hit a ball as his opponent Casper Ruud was forced to pull out with a wrist injury. He will next take on Dominik Koepfer who continued his amazing run by beating the Brit Cameron Norrie 7-5, 6-4 to set up an all German semi final with Zverev.

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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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