NEW YORK: Fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas (pix) raced into the round of 16 at the Western & Southern Open on Sunday with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson.
Greece’s Tsitsipas needed just 69 minutes to subdue Anderson, pressuring the South African’s second serve as he broke four times.
He didn’t face a break point himself until the fifth game of the second set, when Tsitsipas fell into a 0-40 hold but won five straight points to escape the jam.
“That was a crucial game, being able to come back there and maintain the focus that I needed to be back in the match and not be a break down, that was a very good effort from me,” Tsitsipas said. “It was my fighting spirit that turned on and my service points there were incredible.”
He gained the lone break of the second set when Anderson double-faulted on break point in the eighth game, and finished off the match on his second match point when Anderson sailed a return of a second serve long.
“I think the fact that I kept my serve very aggressive and I remained aggressive with my groundstrokes helped a lot and I’m very pleased that I was able to maintain my game throughout the entire match, same intensity,” Tsitsipas said.
Tsitsipas was the first of the top eight men’s seeds to see action as all enjoyed first-round byes.
World No. 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic was scheduled to open his campaign on Monday against qualifier Ricardas Berankis.
The Serbian star remained on Monday’s slate despite pulling out of doubles on Sunday citing pain in his neck.
Women’s top seed Karolina Pliskova fell at the first hurdle, beaten 7-5, 6-4 by Russian Veronika Kudermetova in her second-round opener.
Tsitsipas, seeking his sixth ATP title, next faces either 16th seeded American John Isner or Australian John Millman, both first-round winners on Sunday.
Isner beat his doubles partner Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 7-5, 6-4.
Millman rallied to beat France’s Adrian Mannarino 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).
In other first-round action, Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman defeated Casper Ruud 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 to advance.
While the tournament is being played without fans – as well as without line judges with the electronic “hawkeye” line calling system making all the calls – Schwartzman still found himself waving out of habit to the non-existent crowd after the win.
“Obviously it’s a different feeling, going on court without people,” Schwartzman said. “But in the first set there were a few volunteers and a few friends, players and coaches watching the match.”
The tournament normally played in Cincinnati is being held at the US Tennis Association’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, allowing players to remain in a controlled environment to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The US Open will begin at the venue on Aug 31. – AFP