Mon, Aug 13, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Surging Tsitsipas to meet Nadal in Rogers Cup final

THE SLAYER:Stefanos Tsitsipas has beaten four top 10 opponents — Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Kevin Anderson — at this year’s Rogers Cup


Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece celebrates a point against Kevin Anderson of South Africa in their Rogers Cup semi-final at Aviva Centre in Toronto, Canada, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas on Saturday slayed another tennis giant, saving a match point as he toppled big-serving Kevin Anderson 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(7) in a thriller to set up a Rogers Cup final against top seed Rafa Nadal.

Tsitsipas dropped his racket, smiled and then screamed in front of a frenzied crowd after world No. 6 Anderson sent a backhand long on match point. It was the world No. 27’s fourth consecutive win over a top 10 opponent at the tournament.

Tsitsipas dispatched Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev in the previous three rounds before battling back to send the Wimbledon runner-up packing on a sun-soaked day in Toronto.

“It never gets easier. You just get better,” Tsitsipas wrote on a camera lens after the match.

Yesterday — on his 20th birthday — Tsitsipas was to play his first ATP Masters 1000 final against world No. 1 Nadal after the Spaniard defeated Karen Khachanov 7-6(3), 6-4 in their rain-delayed evening match on Saturday.

Fourth seed Anderson was unable to break Tsitsipas’ serve on any of his four opportunities and saw his lone match point opportunity vanish when Tsitsipas smoked a backhand crosscourt winner in the third set tiebreak.

Tsitsipas, who stood well back of the baseline when receiving the South African’s blistering serves, managed the only service break of the game in the third game of the second set with an overhead smash.

With the win, Tsitsipas is projected to climb to No. 15 when the new rankings are released today.

“I didn’t even have this in my head,” Tsitsipas said of reaching the final. “I thought winning a couple of rounds would be amazing, but I’m in the final already. I can’t believe what just happened.”

“I didn’t aim that high and I think with low expectations I managed to pull out my best tennis,” he said.

Despite his recent success, Tsitsipas will be a big underdog when he takes on French Open champion Nadal, who will be seeking his 33rd career Masters 1000 title.

World No. 1 Simona Halep on Saturday set up a rematch of the French Open final with Sloane Stephens after cruising to a 6-4, 6-1 win over Ashleigh Barty in Montreal.

The Romanian, who overhauled reigning US Open champion Stephens at Roland Garros to earn her maiden Grand Slam title, claimed seven of the last eight games in a strong finish to dispatch the 22-year-old Australian.

“I think I played smart tennis today. I pushed her on her backhand, then I could just receive a shorter ball, an easier ball for me to open the court,” Halep said.

“I just went all the way also on her forehand, short, cross, long, everything,” she added. “I played some slices. I think the match was a very good level of tennis even if the rhythm was a little bit mixed.”

Stephens defeated defending champion Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3 in the afternoon session, breaking her five times to reach the final without having dropped a set through the tournament.

The highly anticipated decider will pit two defense-minded, speedy players against each other, with Halep holding a 6-2 head-to-head record over the American, including winning the last five straight.

“I was pretty close [to winning] the last time, so I’m just going to go out there and play hard,” Stephens said. “I have nothing to lose. Making the finals here is incredible.

“She’s the world No. 1 for a reason, but I’m just going to go out there and try to get her,” she added.

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