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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday October 13, 2021

For the second consecutive evening, Stefanos Tsitsipas battled from a set down to notch a satisfying victory, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 over hard-charging Australian Alex de Minaur. Where does he get the energy, after 69 matches played in the 2021 season, to keep competing at such a high level?

Tennis Express

We asked him that very question after his victory on Wednesday and his answer was simple: “Finish the year in the top three.”

Tsitsipas has talked about that specific goal since the spring, and he’s well on track to achieve it, but to finish what he started he’ll have to ward off Alexander Zverev, the player ranked just behind him (by 545 points – both are in the quarterfinals at Indian Wells) in the ATP Race to Milan rankings.

That explains why Tsitsipas has put so much into his tennis this week at Indian Wells. He has reached the quarterfinals for the first time in the California desert and will face Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia for a spot in the last four.

Wednesday’s match was a physical battle that forced the Greek to take his game to a very high level to come through.

“We both played great, long rallies, battling from the baseline, trying to move the ball left to right,” he said. “There were a lot of exchanges. It got really physical. I was ready for the challenge to make it physical. I was ready to leave my last breath and really, like, go and wait and not rush it.”

Tsitsipas said it took a sacrifice to get through.

“That took a lot of willpower,” he said. “It's one thing said and one thing done. I was ready to stay for three more hours on the court.”

In his post-match press conference Tsitsipas said he felt grateful to have the opportunity to play, even during the tough times where the grind of the tour can bring a player down. A reporter asked him to elaborate and he expressed himself well.

“Tennis is my passion and tennis is something that I always wanted to be professionally involved with,” he said. “It's great. Everyone has their goals and everyone has their own aspirations of what they want to become in life. Sometimes it can get difficult. Lots of traveling, lots of staying in hotel rooms and stuff. But there is a lot of excitement behind all of this. There's a lot of thrill that comes with it."

Rumored to be suffering from a cold this week, Tsitsipas still managed to be extremely physical against De Minaur. He had to be. The Aussie played brilliant through the first two sets, but lost control of the match when a determined Tsitsipas ran away with the second set tiebreaker. From there the 23-year-old Greek never was able to challenge as the World No.3 showed why he is such a tough cookie on the big stage.

Tsitsipas improved to 20-5 at the Masters 1000 level and 54-15 on the season. He leads the ATP in match victories 2021, and based on his performance tonight, many more are likely coming.