ATP

Medvedev to face Opelka in National Bank Open final after Tsitsipas upset

By Sports Desk August 14, 2021

Top seed Daniil Medvedev will face Reilly Opelka in the National Bank Open final after the American stunned Stefanos Tsitsipas in a three-set classic in Saturday's semi-finals.

World number 32 Opelka fought back from a set down in Toronto to knock out favoured third seed Tsitsipas in two hours and 32 minutes.

The 23-year-old American triumphed 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-4, booking a spot in his first ATP Masters 1000 final.

Opelka sent down 17 aces but also hit 27 groundstroke winners in the shock victory over 2021 Australian Open semi-finalist Tsitsipas who had beaten in-form Casper Ruud in the quarters.

"I played great," Opelka said in his on-court interview. “These courts suit my game, it is no coincidence that John Isner is in the other semi-final.

"Stefanos has definitely improved his returning. Come 5-5 in the first set, a lot of balls started to come back. He is a thinker and has a high tennis IQ, so it was expected, but that is what separates him from the rest of the pack."

Opelka was aided by an excellent first serve percentage of 72 per cent, winning 62 of 81 points when he made his first serve.

Both first two sets went to tiebreaks, with Tsitsipas failing to generate a break point until the third set. Opelka made the first break of the match in the seventh game of the third set and held serve twice after to seal victory.

World number two Medvedev cruised into the decider with a commanding win over John Isner in less than an hour.

Medvedev, who was runner-up in Toronto in 2019, won 6-2 6-2 over the big-serving American, with the match totaling 54 minutes.

Isner could only manage four trademark aces for the match, while the Russian had 11 and broke the American four times from seven opportunities.

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    Stefanos Tsitsipas completed the third comeback win from two sets down of his career on Tuesday, defeating Lorenzo Musetti 5-7 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-2 at the French Open.

    Before moving to a 2-0 head-to-head record over Musetti, the fourth-seed Greek's last such victory was against Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals at the 2021 Australian Open.

    Tsitsipas needed to draw on that experience and dig deep after only winning 60 per cent of points on his first serve in the first two sets on Tuesday, going on to then win 15 of 17 points in the deciding set.

    Post-match, the world number four explained how he needed to isolate his focus on each point and build from there after going two sets down.

    "Things don't come easy. I refuse to give up. That's simply how it works with me," Tsitsipas said. "You never really think about getting back after being two sets to love. You just play it point after point. You just wish that your efforts will pay off on a longer scale, longer run.

    "Being in that situation, it's a mountain that you have to climb, and I was able to climb it and regain the momentum steadily, but consistently."

    The 20-year-old Musetti was able to gain early momentum from the baseline and won the longer points, with an even share of winners as well as forced and unforced errors from Tsitsipas.

    The match turned as Tsitsipas regained rhythm on his serve and with more free points coming his way, it then allowed him to apply pressure.

    According to Tsitsipas, however, it was far from easy against a tough opponent who is at home on clay.

    "He's fighting. He's a talented player that has a very nice one-handed backhand," he said afterwards. "He knows the game on clay. He has grown up playing these courts. He's definitely a difficult opponent to face in any circumstance, really.

    "Once I really found my momentum on the serve, my routines and everything, I knew that it can be a different match. 

    "I felt like I was serving better than him, creating more opportunities with my serve, pressing more. It would have been kind of not fair from my perspective to have a different outcome."

     

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    "I will think about the next round only, and then if I will win it, I will think about the next one.

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  • French Open: 'He made his mark on the sport' – Federer, Djokovic and Nadal pay tribute to 'charismatic' Tsonga French Open: 'He made his mark on the sport' – Federer, Djokovic and Nadal pay tribute to 'charismatic' Tsonga

    Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have paid tribute to the "charismatic" Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after the 37-year-old brought his 18-year professional career to a close.

    Tsonga, who reached a career-high ranking of world number five in 2012, confirmed in April that he would retire at the culmination of his French Open campaign.

    That duly came in the first round on Tuesday as he bowed out to world number eight Casper Ruud 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 7-6 (7-0).

    He retires having won, according to Opta, 464 Tour-level matches since September 2004.

    Tsonga is one of just three players, along with Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro, to have beaten Nadal, Federer and Djokovic while they were ranked world number one.

    He is also one of three players, alongside Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych, who have defeated Nadal, Federer and Djokovic at grand slams.

    A video tribute was played on court after his defeat to Ruud, which featured messages from the sport's most iconic players.

    Federer said: "I wanted to congratulate you on an amazing career and it was a pleasure to share the court with and play against you, even to lose against you!

    "We had some great battles. Enjoy the moment in Paris with all your friends and family, in front of all your adoring spectators."

    Djokovic added: "Jo is one of the most charismatic tennis players ever to play the game. I was very happy to share the court with him many times.

    "We get along well and he's a really nice guy. He brought a lot of positive attention and popularity to our sport not just because of his dynamic game style, but also his charisma and his personality, so it's a big loss for professional men's tennis to have him retire.

    "I wish him all the best, and he definitely should be happy about his career and his achievements. He's made his mark and his legacy in our sport."

    Nadal said: "He is very charismatic. I've known him since we were kids; he is a good guy and I think he brings a lot of positive things to our sport so I'm sad to see him going but we are getting old so it's going to happen for everyone."

    Speaking at a media conference after his defeat, Tsonga said he would now spend some time relaxing before focusing on the development of his tennis academy.

    He said he will miss the adrenaline of playing on court, as well as how he was able to express himself completely when competing.

    "It's adrenaline, to step onto a big court like this one," he said. "It's adrenaline you can feel when you have 15,000 people shouting out your name, supporting you on the court.

    "This is what I'm going to miss – the contact with the crowd. And with those who have been supporting me for all these years.

    "You know, in real life, it's sometimes difficult to be intense. You don't want to shock, you don't want to be too rude, you don't want to hurt somebody.

    "You always try to act to be nice, to be sociable. But, you know, on the court, you can express your fever. You can express everything about you, and it's sometimes freeing."

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