Sat, Feb 09, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Tsitsipas struggles past Struff at Sofia Open

Reuters, SOFIA

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas returns to Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff in their Sofia Open second-round men’s singles match in Bulgaria on Thursday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Greek second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday had to fight hard before booking his place in the Sofia Open quarter-finals, securing a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over feisty German Jan-Lennard Struff, having enjoyed the backing of the crowd in the Bulgarian capital.

“For the first time I play as if I was at home,” said 20-year-old Tsitsipas, who reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open last month.

“I felt confident and I hope I will continue to show a good performance,” he said. “Struff played very well, but I was lucky in some of the games and it helped me a lot.”

Greece’s emerging talent next meets experienced Frenchman Gael Monfils, who defeated Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 7-5, 6-3.

Fernando Verdasco also secured his place in the quarter-finals with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win over Romanian Marius Copil.

Big-serving Copil, who reached the final last year, bombarded Verdasco with 10 aces, but had no answer to his opponent’s brilliance in the final set.

“I have been able to put more returns than him in the third set,” the 35-year-old Spaniard said.

“I made fewer mistakes from the baseline,” he added.

Next up for the veteran is Italian Matteo Berrettini, who stunned top seed Karen Khachanov with a three-set win in the second round on Wednesday.

Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev came back from a set down to beat Dutchman Robin Haase 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 and book his place in the last eight, where he faces Slovakian Martin Klizan, who outclassed German qualifier Daniel Brands 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.

Marton Fucsovics also made it to the last eight after a 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 6-4 win over another German qualifier — Yannick Maden.

The Hungarian faces fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, who won the tournament in 2016.

In the quarter-finals of the doubles, Taiwan’s Hsieh Cheng-peng and Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia defeated Denys Molchanov of Ukraine and Igor Zelenay of Slovakia 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4) to advance to the semi-finals.

Additional reporting by staff writer



Veteran Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus on Thursday beat top-seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille 7-6 (7/2), 6-7 (3/7), 6-4 to reach the Open Sud de France quarter-finals.

Baghdatis, a 2006 Australian Open finalist, served for the match at 5-3 in the second set, but Pouille, who lost in the semi-finals to eventual champion Novak Djokovic at this year’s Australian Open, fought back to take it into a third set.

Baghdatis, 33, next faces Radu Albot of Romania, who labored into the last eight by beating Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-4.

Earlier, third seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada used his strong serve to beat Marcel Granollers 6-4, 7-6 (7/1).

The 19-year-old wild-card did not face a break point and won 30 of his 33 first-serve points against the Spanish veteran.

Shapovalov was one of only two players to take a set from Djokovic at last month’s Australian Open, but he has yet to win a title on the ATP Tour.

He next faces seventh-seeded Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who rallied to a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Ilya Ivashka of Belarus.

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