Tsitsipas gives tiebreaker king Isner a taste of his own medicine

Playing tiebreakers against John Isner is not always the best of situations, but Stefanos Tsitsipas managed a pair of them in impressive fashion to reach the Cincinnati Masters quarterfinals.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Western & Southern Open (Flushing Meadows / New York), 2020 Stefanos Tsitsipas, Western & Southern Open (Flushing Meadows / New York), 2020

Stefanos Tsitsipas is through to the quarter-finals of the Western & Southern Open after defeating John Isner 7-6(2), 7-6(4) during third-round action on Tuesday night. The world No 6 from Greece never broke Isner’s serve, but he consistently came up big on the most important points to advance in one hour and 42 minutes.

Tsitsipas generated the only break chance in the first set but failed to capitalize. It hardly mattered because Cincinnati’s No 4 seed dominated the opening tiebreaker from start to finish. He had to save two break points in the second, while Isner again fought off one. The result was another ‘breaker, in which Tsitsipas seized a crucial mini-break at 4-4. Two points on his own serve later, it was all over.

“Although I didn’t get any breaks,” Tsitsipas commented, “I still felt very comfortable starting the tiebreakers on both two sets. It is very difficult playing tall players like John. The serve is obviously the most difficult part. Throughout the entire match I think my return was at a very high level…. It is turning out to be a productive tournament. I’ve been working very hard to get to this point. Things have been working good.”

It is safe to say that this was perfect preparation for the quarterfinals, because next up for Tsitsipas is one of the other biggest servers on tour — Reilly Opelka. The 6ft 11in American booked his spot in the last eight by beating Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 7-6(4).

“That is quite crazy,” the 22-year-old said of his draw so far. “I will play three very tall players (also Kevin Anderson) in the span of four days. I played Reilly in my junior years and it’s great to have the opportunity to play him another time.”

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