Greek gun slays Demon to reach Rome quarters

GREEK sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was not mucking around at Rome overnight, dismantling Australian ninth seed Alex de Minaur in a speedy hour to reach the quarter finals of the ATP 1000 Masters event. Tsitsipas won 6-1 6-2 over de Minaur to make it a whopping 11-1 head-to-head advantage against the fellow Top 10’er.

Since winning his first ATP clash against de Minaur in 2018, Tsitsipas strung together 10 straight wins over the Aussie eight of which came on hard courts, and two on clay. He led 6-1 against de Minaur in their previous clash at Acapulco, but the Aussie fought back to finally beat his nemesis 1-6 6-3 6-3.

There was no such relief at Rome however, with Tsitsipas winning the first set 6-1 in just 23 minutes overnight, before needing an additional 37 minutes to tie up the match dropping just three games along the way.

“I tried to do the best that I could out there on the court by bringing the best quality on my strokes, and I delivered,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “Throughout the entire match I was pretty consistent with my serves and the ball placement. I was able to construct those points patiently and then wait for those shorter balls to come up.

“I really felt that my opponent felt the heaviness and the depth of my ball. It gave me courage, it gave me great belief in myself that I can continue pushing in that sense. I knew that I had something good working for me today.”

His dominant one-handed backhand was on full display, as he was only broken once, while winning 30 of 39 points off his serve, which came from a 69 per cent clip. By comparison, de Minaur’s serve – which has always been an issue compared to other top players – yielded the Australian just 18 of 41 points, 44 per cent.

Tsitsipas is a known star on clay, having now reached his 12th ATP Masters 1000 quarter finals, the equal sixth most in history. Of the active players, he is behind only Rafael Nadal (46) and Novak Djokovic (36) who are ranked first and second respectively.

The Greek talent has also made the semis in Rome twice, the final once and is now a five-time Rome quarter finalist. The next step will be facing Chilean Nicolas Jarry who made it through to the quarter finals after a 7-5 6-3 victory over surprise packet Alexandre Muller.

German Alexander Zverev is the only player ranked higher than Tsitsipas remaining in the draw, with the third seed taking on American Taylor Fritz for a spot in the semi-finals. If successful in his quarter final, Tsitsipas would take on the winner of seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz or 14th seed Tommy Paul, with the latter knocking off Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round. Chilean Alejandro Tabilo and Chinese hope Zhizhen Zhang face off in the other quarter final.

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