Roland Garros Revenge and First Quarterfinal for Tsitsipas
19-year-old tennis sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas upset Croatian Ivo Karlovic to reach the quarterfinals of the European Open in Antwerp, Belgium. With this result, he becomes the first Greek to reach the quarterfinals of an ATP event in 44 years.
Starting from the qualifying rounds this week, the young Greek won two matches in two days against lower-ranked opponents to reach the main draw. He then comfortably won his first round over Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, ranked 33 in the world, 6-1 6-4. This set up a second round match against Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, a rematch of the first round of Roland Garros back in May. Karlovic, then ranked 24 but now ranked 51, had defeated Tsitsipas in straight sets in Paris.
This time it would be a different story, as Tsitsipas looked to even out the head-to-head record with the Croat, who is twice his age. The first set saw no breaks of serve, as the youngster edged the veteran 7-6 with the tiebreak score being 7-4. The second set also seemed to be heading to a tiebreak, as the first 11 games were all service holds. With Tsitsipas serving down 5-6, the Croat fell during a rally and twisted his ankle. He received immediate medical attention on court and was unable to continue to play as a result of the injury.
Although it may not have been the way he wanted to win, the Greek now advances to the quarterfinals for the very first time in his short career. Not since Nicholas Kalogeropoulos in 1973 has a Greek player reached the quarterfinals of an ATP tournament. This is a remarkable achievement for Tsitsipas, who in his first season on the professional tour, has already won a challenger title and qualified for two of the four majors. He has qualified for eight ATP events in total this year, with five of those all coming in the past five weeks.
Next up for Tsitsipas is top-seeded David Goffin of Belgium, the number 10 ranked player in the world. Aside from having the home crowd support, Goffin will also have the advantage of only having played one match to get to the quarterfinals. On the other hand, Tsitsipas has played four matches since Sunday. The match will take place on Friday, not before 7:00 PM local time (8:00 PM Greece time, 1:00 PM New York time).
Regardless of the result, this has definitely been an impressive first year on tour for the former junior (U18) world number one. Starting the season ranked 210 in the world, he is currently ranked 122, with his career-high being 115. After this tournament, he will rise to a new career-high (exact ranking to be confirmed after this tournament), even if he loses his quarterfinal. With a win against Goffin, Tsitsipas would become the first Greek man to ever crack the top 100. If not, he will still have a few more chances in the coming weeks to end the season in the top 100 and gain direct entry into the main draw of the 2018 Australian Open.