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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday August 10, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas rebounded after failing to convert five match points in the second set to defeat Ugo Humbert in three.

Photo Source: Getty

Stefanos Tsitsipas carried a lot of baggage with him as he headed off to the locker room after the second set of his second round match on Tuesday night at the Aviva Centre in Toronto. He had already lost his first two matches to his opponent Ugo Humbert, at Paris last year and at the Olympics earlier this month, and he had just failed to convert on five match points in the second set tiebreaker against the suddenly surging southpaw.

Tennis Express

But the Greek managed to collect himself and put his best foot forward as he dominated the third set to earn a 6-3, 6-7(13), 6-1 triumph to book his spot in the round of 16 at the National Bank Open in Toronto.

“I took a break,” the World No.3 told reporters after the match. “I went to refresh myself. I kind of put it behind. I didn't want to think about it. Whatever happened happened, and, you know, I don't want anything to affect me.”

Tsitsipas, who improved to 43-12 on the season, says he was proud of the fortitude he displayed.

“I don't want anything to get inside my head,” he said. “I just showed incredible, as we said before, mental balance and mental strength to overcome this difficult tiebreak that I just experienced. You know, didn't go to my favor, but I still had high hopes that I could pull something good off.”

The Greek will face either Aslan Karatsev or Karen Khachanov in the round of 16 in Toronto, the scene of his first Masters 1000 final, in 2018 (loss to Nadal). He will take a lot of confidence from his effort against Humbert. He was often frustrated by the crafty 23-year-old, who displayed an uncanny knack for saving break points, but Tsitsipas pressured his nemesis all night, earning 15 break points over the course of the two hour and 34 minute contest.

Had he not let his nerves get the best of him in the second set breaker, Tsitsipas might have been able to make it an earlier night, but the fact that he was able to come through so convincingly in the decider bodes well for his self-belief going forward.

The Lower Half Favorite with Nadal out

Tsitsipas will take his place as the favorite to make it out of the lower half now that Rafael Nadal has announced his withdrawal from the tournament due to lingering left foot issues. But Nadal’s absence isn’t something that concerns the Greek.

“I don't really think about that. It is what it is,” he said. “I mean, if they don't feel fit and they aren't ready to play, it's up to them to decide.”

Tsitsipas says that while the sport owes so much to the legends, it’s also time for the winds of change to blow through men’s tennis.

“Obviously let's accept it, because it's a fact, it's true, they bring a lot of fans to the courts, and they are also the reason why people come and watch these big events,” he said. “Also, they are a big part of, you know, tennis being where it is now.

“So I think there is room for new stars. You know, it's been a lot about them in recent years, and I think now it's showing that, you know, things are changing. Things are kind of -- we see kind of different generation of players stepping up and showing what they are capable of.”

Medvedev Moves on, Ruud Stretches Streak to 12

Daniil Medvedev survived a scare, and a rain delay, to prevail against Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan. The 2019 runner-up at Montreal claimed a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory, the highlight of the match being a strange hindrance call against Medvedev in the third set that left both players in stitches as they questioned umpire Aurelie Tourte's call. 

In other action on Tuesday, Norway's Casper Ruud took his talents to the hard courts. After reeling off 11 consecutive victories and three titles on the clay this summer, the No.6 seed didn't drop a beat on Tuesday. He defeated Croatia's Marin Cilic 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the round of 16.

Kei Nishikori powered past Miomir Kecmanovic, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2, while Karen Khachanov knocked off Cameron Norrie,  6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

Other winner were Frances Tiafoe (d. Nishioka 6-4, 6-3), Benoit Paire (d. McDonald 6-3, 6-4), Reilly Opelka (d. Dimitrov 6-3, 6-4), Dusan Lajovic (d. Ruusuvuori 3-6, 6-3, 6-3), John Isner (d. Davidovich Fokina 6-4, 6-1), Nikoloz Basilashvili (d. Jenson Brooksby 2-6, 6-0, 6-4).


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