Tsitsipas Edges Shelton In Cincinnati, Purcell Upsets Ruud

  • Posted: Aug 16, 2023

Tsitsipas Edges Shelton In Cincinnati, Purcell Upsets Ruud

Fourth seed Tsitsipas faces Hurkacz or Coric next

There was little to separate Stefanos Tsitsipas and Ben Shelton on Wednesday in a sharp-serving shootout on the lightning-fast courts of Cincinnati.

It was the fourth-seeded Tsitsipas who ultimately raised his game in a pair of tie-breaks for a hard-earned 7-6 (3), 7-6(2) victory at the Western & Southern Open. The Greek made his experience count against his #NextGenATP opponent, staying consistent at the tailend of both sets to wrap a one-hour, 43-minute triumph.

“He’s still relatively young and he has that free spirit in the way he approaches his game,” said Tsitsipas. “It came down to two tiebreakers and I was very confident if I made a few returns back and got him to rally a bit, things might go my way, and it ended up so. I was tough, for sure. I was tough as nails, and that gave me the win today.”

There may be some contrasts between Shelton’s kicking lefty serve and Tsitsipas’ flatter delivery, but both proved extremely effective in the pair’s maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting. The American won an impressive 84 per cent (36/43) of points behind his first serve but was still outdone by Tsitsipas, who won 93 per cent (37/40) of points behind his first delivery. Neither player faced a break point in the match.

“Most of my service games, I felt like had that flow, that rhythm that I was seeking from the very beginning of the match,” said Tsitsipas. “It sort of progressed more and more. I’m happy with how I handled the rallies that I got to play after serving… He hits big, can serve big, so with these kinds of players you have to be 100 per cent there. There isn’t much of a gap that you can give them.”

Tsitsipas now holds an 11-5 record at the Western & Southern Open, where he enjoyed semi-final runs in 2020 and 2021 before reaching the championship match in 2022. He will next face Hubert Hurkacz in Ohio, after the Pole ended Borna Coric’s reign as Cincinnati champion with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 second-round win.

Wednesday’s triumph, combined with Jannik Sinner’s defeat to Dusan Lajovic, was a boost for Tsitsipas’ Nitto ATP Finals qualification hopes. The 25-year-old is fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, 660 points behind Sinner, and he will look to gain further ground on the Italian with another deep run in Cincinnati this week.

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Casper Ruud could not join the Greek in the third round. Max Purcell downed Ruud 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 for his maiden Top 10 win.

The World No. 70 Purcell arrived in Cincinnati fresh from claiming his maiden ATP Masters 1000 main-draw win in Toronto. Just as had against Felix Auger-Aliassime in Canada, Purcell kept his cool to defeat a higher-ranked opponent. The Australian qualifier powered 38 winners, including 12 aces, to outlast the World No. 7 Ruud across two hours.

Now up 16 spots to No. 54 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings as a result of his run in Cincinnati, Purcell’s next test in Ohio is a third-round clash with 10th seed Frances Tiafoe or Stan Wawrinka.

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