Tiafoe Edges Basilashvili, Leads Young American Charge In Madrid
#NextGenATP star to play Kohlschreiber
Frances Tiafoe led a banner day for young Americans at the Mutua Madrid Open on Monday, earning his third Top 20 win of the season by edging past No. 14 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-7(8), 6-3, 6-4 in two hours.
Tiafoe held set points at 5-4, with Basilashvili serving at 30/40, then two more in the tie-break at 6/5 and 8/7 in the first set. The 21-year-old then fell to a 1-3 deficit in the second set, with the match on Basilashvili’s racquet, before Tiafoe broke up his rhythm to start his comeback. One break of serve in the fifth game of the decider proved to be enough in the pair’s first FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter, which included 11 aces for Tiafoe and 12 aces for Basilashvili.
The 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier will now face experienced German Philipp Kohlschreiber, who saved six of seven break points in a 6-2, 7-6(5) victory over Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan in one hour and 39 minutes.
Another American who competed in Milan last year, Taylor Fritz, went through qualifying this week for the first time this season. And now, after an impressive 7-6(8), 7-6(4) win against 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov, Fritz is into the second round of the main draw in the Spanish capital.
Fritz has lost in the first round six times this year, but he showed no apprehension against the Bulgarian, playing some of his best tennis in crucial moments against Dimitrov to advance after one hour and 47 minutes.
Fritz saved one set point in the first-set tie-break to take the lead. And although Fritz double-faulted a break-lead back to Dimitrov in the second set, he remained calm and allowed Dimitrov to make the mistakes in the second-set tie-break. The American hit 15 aces in the match, which is his first-ever main draw win in Madrid.
The World No.57 will next face top-ranked Novak Djokovic. In their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting last month in Monte-Carlo, Djokovic cruised with the loss of just three games. The 21-year-old owns two wins against Top 10 opponents, defeating Marin Cilic at Indian Wells two years ago and John Isner in Auckland in January.
New York Open champion Reilly Opelka recorded just his second ATP clay-court match win to set up a clash against fifth seed and last year’s finalist Dominic Thiem. The 21-year-old struck 14 aces and lost just of his first-service points (34/39) in a 7-6(5), 6-4 win over Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain in 86 minutes. Carreno Busta had been seeking to win his first match since suffering a right shoulder injury in February.
Did You Know?
The last time three Americans reached the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open was in 2016, when Denis Kudla, Sam Querrey and Jack Sock did it.