Stefanos Tsitsipas Pulls Away Late In J.J. Wolf Rematch | ATP Tour


For his third straight match, Stefanos Tsitsipas went three sets against an unseeded American at an ATP Masters 1000 event. After beating Jack Sock and losing to Jenson Brooksby in Indian Wells, the Greek was victorious against J.J. Wolf on Saturday at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

In a 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-1 win, Tsitsipas faced a much tougher test than he did one month ago in Acapulco, when he dropped just one game against the Ohio State product.

“Always expect him to play the match of his life. He had nothing to lose,” Tsitsipas said of his mindset entering his Miami opener. “I very much know how to handle situations like this, speaking from experience. It kind of worked in the third set. I think letting go and relaxing a bit helped me a lot and gave me that win.”

Both men flashed inventive shotmaking in a gripping encounter in Hard Rock Stadium, with a hard-fought second set providing the picks of the bunch. Tsitsipas improvised a forehand slice with his hand on his racquet’s throat, then followed it up with a backhand pass at 1-3. After Tsitsipas recovered the early break, Wolf one-upped that effort with a lefty forehand winner on the dead run as the set came to a boil.

When the two 23-year-olds were not filling up the highlight reel, the match was all about first-strike tennis, with each man looking to attack with the forehand and finish points at the net. But for all the baseline brilliance, the serve proved the dominant shot for much of the night.

After struggling to make returns early, Tsitsipas converted on the first break point of the match to pocket the opening set. Wolf countered with an immediate break to open the second and later found two big serves to bring up set point in the tie-break. After captivating the Miami crowd with his upset effort, the American brought his supporters to fever pitch as he forced a decider.

The final set was all Tsitsipas, as the third seed began to dictate in all phases of play. The Greek broke in each of his four return games in the stanza, giving him six total breaks in the two-hour match. He finished with 37 winners, including 20 off the forehand, compared to 20 errors.


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He will next face 25th seed Alex de Minaur, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over fellow Aussie Jordan Thompson.

“He’s a fighter,” Tsitsipas said of de Minaur, against whom he holds a 7-0 ATP Head2Head advantage. “I really hope to bring out the same kind of level that I brought in the third set, and maintain that throughout the match.”

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