On an opening day full of surprises and marathons, it was business as usual for fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas as he took down Jeremy Chardy in straight sets to reach the second round at Roland Garros.
Fifth seed Tsitsipas, who reached the semi-finals here last year, has been in red-hot form throughout the clay-court season. He’s gone from strength to strength after winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, reaching the final in Barcelona (l. Nadal) and claiming his eighth ATP Tour title in Lyon.
Tsitsipas, the FedEx ATP Race to Turin leader, saved four of the five break points he faced en route to a 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-1 win over Chardy on Sunday, his 17th clay-court victory of the season.
“I think the first tiebreak was a game-changer, in a way,” Tsitsipas said in his post-match press conference. “I did a lot of psychology, a lot of positivity and it kind of loosened me up a little bit. Starting the second set a bit more aggressive, starting a bit more free-spirited, those things kind of contributed in breaking and raising my level.
“[In the] third set, I felt like in total control. I felt my return was working much better. I got into the game even more, and I felt like things were working out for me. I could find the depth of the court, I could execute and be in control.”
The Greek raised his level after facing a set point during the closely contested opening set. Playing against Chardy on Court Philippe Chatrier – but without a crowd of French supporters due to Paris’ 9 pm curfew – Tsitsipas took control with an early break at 1-1.
His serve bailed him out of trouble when Chardy worked his way back into the set. Chardy levelled the score at 3-3 and pushed Tsitsipas to set point at 5-4. But the Greek fired a big unreturned first serve to get back to deuce, and closed out the game after punishing a short return with a blistering forehand winner. From 1/4 down in the tie-break, Tsitsipas won five of the next six points to retake the lead and close out the 58-minute opening set.
After the first set, Tsitsipas raised his level and never looked back. The Greek did not face a break point across the final two sets, and broke serve four more times en route to victory. Tsitsipas fired 31 winners in the match and kept his unforced error differential positive with 25, outpacing Chardy’s 25 winners and 35 unforced errors.
With his ATP Tour-leading 34th win of the season, Tsitsipas booked a spot into the second round for the fourth year in a row. He awaits the winner of #NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda, who lifted his first ATP Tour title in Parma on Saturday, and Pedro Martinez, ranked No. 103 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.
“I haven’t played them, but I’m gonna do my routine with my coach, analyse and be well prepared for my next game,” Tsitsipas said. “You will have a big server on one side, the American, and a Spaniard who I think plays really good on clay. Same for Sebastian, who has showed good tennis on clay last week. [I am] just focusing and concentrated on what’s next.”
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In the same quarter of the draw, 22nd seed Cristian Garin battled past Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(6), 6-2 after three hours and nine minutes. The Chilean is into the second round on the Parisian clay for the third straight year.
Garin has proven himself a clay-court stalwart. The 2013 Roland Garros boys’ singles champion has won all five of his ATP Tour titles on the surface, and he will next play American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald, who eliminated Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-3.
On opening day, memories were made 👀
This is what #RolandGarros is all about…@emirates | #EmiratesFlyBetterMoments pic.twitter.com/OidGNOLnHc
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 30, 2021
In the same section of the draw, 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov had to retire in the fourth set of his match due to a back injury. The Bulgarian led Marcos Giron 6-2, 6-4, 5-1 0/40, but the American rallied to win the set, and Dimitrov retired at 0-3 in the fourth.
Giron will challenge Guido Pella for a spot in the third round after the Argentine lefty defeated Colombian qualifier Daniel Elahi Galan 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-5.
Did You Know?
At 22 years 305 days, Tsitsipas is bidding to become the youngest Grand Slam men’s singles champion since Juan Martin del Potro won the 2009 US Open aged 20 years 355 days.