Stefanos Tsitsipas doesn’t yet have an ATP 500 title in his trophy cabinet, but the World No. 4 looks to be firing up nicely to address that anomaly in Rotterdam this week.
The 2021 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion produced another destructive performance on Friday to ease past Alex de Minaur 6-4, 6-4 in one hour, 31 minutes to reach the semi-finals of the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament.
Despite getting the job done in straight-sets, the Greek nonetheless acknowledged he had been in a tough battle against de Minaur. “There were moments today when I was literally hitting the ball really hard,” said Tsitsipas after the match, “almost hitting the lines back-to-back, and he was able to get those balls back, and not only get them back but also counter-attack which was very impressive to say the least.
“You have to be patient, you’ve got to wait and see if he can do it over and over again.”
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Tsitsipas had produced some fine ball-striking to see off Ilya Ivashka in the second-round, and he picked up where he left off against de Minaur. His strong start brought him early rewards as he overcame stubborn resistance from the Australian to break with his sixth break point of the fifth game.
The top seed went on to see out the first set comfortably and looked to be running away with the second as he surged to a double-break lead, before World No. 34 de Minaur slowed his march to victory with some trademark grit to reclaim one break.
Tsitsipas’ powerful game was nonetheless too much even for one of the best movers on the ATP Tour, the Greek striking 19 winners and winning 82 per cent (27/33) of points behind his first serve.
“I took my time, I tried to understand what works for me and what doesn’t, and with the right momentum, with the right intention, things kind of paid off,” said Tsitsipas. “I was able to get ahead in the score, which gave me a lot of confidence, and I think my serve was very good today, it gave me a lot of points and applied a lot of pressure to him.”
Standing in the way of the Greek in the semi-finals will be Czech qualifier Jiri Lehecka, after the World No. 137 continued his dream run in Rotterdam with a three-set win over Lorenzo Musetti earlier on Friday. Despite Lehecka’s presence in the semi-finals coming as something of a surprise, Tsitsipas will not be taking anything for granted.
“He [Lehecka] has been on a very good winning streak,” said Tsitsipas. “I think he’s a young talent that can play really good tennis. It’s never easy playing someone who you haven’t faced before, so match preparation will be very important heading towards tomorrow’s battle.”