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Tennis • Tsitsipas Scrapes Past Isner, Serena Loses A Wild One To Sakkari In Cincinnati

Stefanos Tsitsipas defeats John Isner in two tie-break sets.


By Ricky Dimon

Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced to the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open with a 7-6(2), 7-6(4) victory over John Isner on Tuesday evening. Tsitsipas survived yet another Isner match that had zero breaks of serve after one hour and 41 minutes.

The Greek was simply too good in the two ‘breakers during what was otherwise an even contest.

“Although I didn’t get any breaks,” the 22-year-old reflected, “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.”

And this was certainly good preparation for the quarterfinals on Wednesday, because up next for Tsitsipas is another huge server — 6’11” American Reilly Opelka. Opelka advanced with a 6-3, 7-6(4) win over Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 7-6(4).

“That is quite crazy,” Tsitsipas 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.”

There will be no more opportunities for match play before the U.S. Open for Serena Williams. The 38-year-old led Maria Sakkari by a set and 5-3 in the second but somehow ended up losing. Sakkari stormed back for a 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-1 upset as Williams disappeared both mentally and physically in the third.

“It was tough, but I mean, I literally should have won that match,” the 23-time Grand Slam champion admitted. “There was no excuse. So it was hard, but I had so many opportunities to win and I have to figure that one out, like how to start winning those matches again. There is really no excuse, to be honest. I started cramping, but I shouldn’t have been in that situation. I don’t think that helps mentally when it’s like you know the match is over and you have won the match, and now your legs were already tired and now they are even more tired, and now it’s even more tired.

Serena Williams taps racquets with Maria Sakkari of Greece after being defeated during her Western and Southern Open third round match.

“I literally put myself in this situation. I put myself in a bad situation. You know, it’s like dating a guy that you know sucks. That’s literally what I keep doing out here. It’s like I have got to get rid of this guy. It just makes no sense. It’s frustrating.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.