Chilean scores first Top 10 win over Zverev in Munich
Christian Garin was battling away on the ATP Challenger Tour just six months ago, but he’s making headlines this year for his breakthrough ATP Tour results on clay.
After finishing 2018 with a flourish by winning three consecutive Challenger titles, the Chilean followed up this February by winning his first ATP Tour main draw match in six years against Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Argentina Open. Garin then reached his first ATP Tour final two weeks later at the Brasil Open (l. to Pella).
But it was last month where Garin brought the crowd to their feet and himself to his knees by winning his maiden crown at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston (d. Ruud). The 22-year-old become the first Chilean in 10 years (Fernando Gonzalez, Vina Del Mar 2009) to win an ATP Tour event.
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Garin has since added a pair of high-profile wins to his banner season. He scored his first Top 20 win last week against Denis Shapovalov at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and recorded his first Top 10 win today against two-time defending champion Alexander Zverev in the BMW Open by FWU quarter-finals.
The Chilean was ranked outside of the Top 200 at this time last year, but will crack the Top 40 if he can defeat Marco Cecchinato on Saturday in the Munich semi-finals.
With fans in the stands of the Estadio Millennium roaring around him, 19-year-old Alejandro Davidovich Fokina fell to his knees on the Portuguese clay and lowered his head to the red dirt in disbelief. The #NextGenATP Spaniard had just advanced to the semi-finals of the Millennium Estoril Open after third seed Gael Monfils hit a forehand into the net.
Davidovich Fokina arrived in Estoril without a tour-level win. But after defeating three players inside the Top 60 of the ATP Rankings in the main draw, the qualifier is into his first ATP Tour semi-finals.
“It’s amazing to win against a legend like Monfils and in a tough match like that,” Davidovich Fokina told ATPTour.com after his two-hour, 15-minute victory. “It’s amazing for me.”
Before the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech last month, Davidovich Fokina had never played an ATP Tour match. While he qualified there and pushed German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber in a tight two-setter, he never expected this.
“Never. To beat a legend like Monfils, I never expected that,” Davidovich Fokina said. “I feel so good. I’m so glad to get to play tomorrow.”
It wasn’t just that he defeated the Frenchman, but how he did it. Davidovich Fokina, at a career-best 167th in the ATP Rankings, matched Monfils’ entertaining play with his own, consistently using his drop shot to great effect against the speedy third seed, and showing no fear by diving for volleys at the net multiple times.
Despite being in the middle of a tight match, Monfils rushed to Davidovich Fokina’s side of the court after one of the Spaniard’s dives to make sure he was okay. Although Monfils lost, he met the teen with a big smile and friendly handshake.
“He told me ‘Good luck with the rest of the tournament and see you in Madrid’,” Davidovich Fokina remembered. “It’s amazing and to beat him is incredible. The way he was nice to me when I fell down, he asked me if I was okay, he’s a nice guy. A very nice guy.”
The Monfils win is his biggest yet. Not only did Davidovich Fokina show grit in the second set, saving a break point that would have allowed Monfils to serve for the match, but he gave fans a preview of what should be an entertaining game to watch for years to come.
“He’s everywhere,” Davidovich Fokina said of Monfils. “I had to play smart against him and the drop shot is my best shot and I had to use it a lot against him.
“Always,” the teenager said of how often he favours his drop shot. “[I learned it] when I was three years old. It’s a part of me.”
Davidovich began playing tennis at three with his father, a half-Swede, half-Russian boxer. His mother is Russian. While the #NextGenATP player is Spanish, he believes his game is most like Serbian Novak Djokovic’s. Two years ago, he won the Wimbledon Boys’ Singles Championship. Was that title bigger for him than his run in Portugal?
“Tough question, but this week [is better],” Davidovich Fokina said. “I’ve played against better players than me, legends like Monfils. To beat them is amazing.”
Davidovich Fokina’s performance has propelled him into contention in the ATP Race To Milan. On Monday, he will climb to at least 10th place as he seeks his first appearance at the Next Gen ATP Finals.
“I want to go this year. I want to be there for sure,” Davidovich Fokina said. “That and break into the Top 100.”
But for now, he is solely focusing on competing in Estoril. Davidovich will face Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas for a spot in his first ATP Tour final.
“I’m just focused on playing the next match. I’m not focusing on being in the semi-finals or anything like that,” he said. “I’m focusing on every match, every point and I’m ready to play tomorrow.
“I can compete here now with every player that is in front of me. I’m ready for the next one.”
Tsitsipas Shows An Interesting Way Of Saying ‘Thank You’ In Estoril
World No. 10 reveals interesting history with quarter-final opponent Domingues
Stefanos Tsitsipas, the top seed at this week’s Millennium Estoril Open in Portugal, has an interesting way of saying ‘thank you’.
Tsitsipas defeated home favourite Joao Domingues, who was competing in his first ATP Tour quarter-final, 7-6(3), 6-4 on Friday to reach the last four at the ATP 250 tournament. In October 2016 Domingues’ father, Paulo Domingues, gave Tsitsipas a wild card into a Futures event in Portugal when the Greek was just 18.
“I came to play a Futures event a couple of years ago. That’s the place where it all started,” Tsitsipas said before praising Domingues’ father. “He welcomed us at the airport. He brought us to the tournament hotel and then he actually introduced Joao to us for the first time and told us he’s his father. The wild card was everything. I won that tournament. I beat Joao in the semi-finals and since that time I feel like he’s improved a lot.”
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Tsitsipas had won four Futures titles before this event. But his victory in Portugal helped him reach the Top 200 of the ATP Rankings for the first time.
“I actually appreciated that gesture from his dad. The wild card was lovely,” Tsitsipas said. “I managed to play pretty well after that and that first Futures title that I won in Portugal was crucial for my career.”
The World No. 10 also played Domingues at an ATP Challenger Tour event in The Netherlands in 2017. But this was their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. Domingues did well in his first quarter-final at this level, serving for the first set at 5-4.
“I knew it was going to be tough to face him. He came from the qualies. He had a lot of matches, so that victory is very special for me,” Tsitsipas said. “I managed to stay calm and show my best tennis at the end of the match.”
Garin Saves 2 M.P., Unseats Two-Time Champion Zverev In Munich
Cecchinato advances on Friday
The milestone moments keep piling on for Cristian Garin. The Chilean scored his first-ever Top 5 win at the BMW Open by FWU in Munich, saving two match points in his quarter-final with top seed Alexander Zverev of Germany to defeat the top seed and two-time defending champion 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.
Garin had just one career ATP Tour main draw win at the start of the season, Since then, he’s won his first ATP Tour title in Houston (d. Ruud) and earned his first two victories over players inside the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings. The 22-year-old was ranked outside the Top 200 just 12 months ago, but will crack the Top 40 on Monday if he can reach the final.
The Chilean squandered three match points on his serve at 5-4 in the second set, then bravely fought back from a break down in the final set and saved two match points on his serve at 4-5. Garin won 12 of the last 13 points to prevail in two hours and 12 minutes.
Awaiting Garin in the semi-finals is third-seeded Italian Marco Cecchinato, who saved one match point in a 1-6, 7-5, 7-5 comeback win over eighth seed Marton Fucsovics of Hungary. Cecchinato won his lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting with Garin this February at the Argentina Open en route to winning the title (d. Schwartzman).
Fucsovics led by a set and 40/0 in the first game of the second set when rain interrupted play. Upon the resumption, he held a match point at 5-4, with Cecchinato serving at 30/40 prior to being broken in the 11th game of the set. Cecchinato saved 15 of 19 break points and broke decisively in the 11th game of the decider.
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The Swiss superstar is set to compete on the red dirt for the first time since 2016 Rome next week at the Mutua Madrid Open, an ATP Masters 1000 tournament. The 37-year-old, who recently triumphed in Miami, had his first clay-court hit of the season on 15 April, and his first practice at the Caja Magica on Friday.
Federer has long enjoyed success in Madrid, winning the title three times. In 2006, he lifted the trophy when the tournament was played indoors on hard courts, and he also was victorious on clay in 2009 and 2012. The 101-time tour-level champion holds a 35-8 record at the event, reaching the final five times. He also owns an 8-5 record here against opponents inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings.
The World No. 4 will be the fourth seed at the second clay-court Masters 1000 tournament of the season. Federer will learn his draw on Saturday at 11:30am local time.
– Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Federer was World No. 3 and would be the third seed in Madrid. Federer will be seeded fourth in Madrid. He will rise to World No. 3 on Monday when he passes Alexander Zverev, who drops the 250 points he earned 12 months ago by winning the 2018 Munich title.
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Tsitsipas Battles Into Estoril Semi-finals For Second Straight Year
Goffin, Monfils play later today
Stefanos Tsitsipas is through to the Millennium Estoril Open semi-finals for the second consecutive year after beating Portuguese qualifier Joao Domingues 7-6(3), 6-4 in one hour and 47 minutes on Friday.
Tsitsipas recovered from 3-5 down in the first set against the conqueror of Australians Alex de Minaur and John Millman this week, then held at set point on Domingues’ serve at 6/5, 30/40 and later broke clear midway through the tie-break. After three successive service breaks from 3-3 in the second set, the Greek wrapped up his 21st match win of the season.
The 20-year-old continues his fine season, having reached his first Grand Slam championship semi-final at the Australian Open (l. to Nadal) in January and picked up his second ATP Tour title at the Open 13 Provence (d. Kukushkin) the following month. He will next face fourth-seeded Belgian David Goffin or Malek Jaziri of Tunisia on Saturday.
Later today, third seed Gael Monfils meets Spanish qualifier Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and eighth-seeded American Frances Tiafoe plays Uruguayan lucky loser Pablo Cuevas during the evening session.