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By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, March 4, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas used superb shot-making and gritty scrambles to fight off Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 and advance to the Rotterdam quarterfinals.

Photo credit: ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament Facebook

A creative Stefanos Tsitsipas stitched together the Slam comeback of his career rallying from a two-set deficit to defeat Rafael Nadal in last month's Australian Open.

Today, Tsitsipas threaded the needle on a brilliant backhand pass to extend his Rotterdam stay.

More: Murray Taking Positives From Rotterdam Defeat

In a high-quality clash, Tsitsipas used superb shot-making and gritty scrambles to fight off Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.

Tsitsipas raised his 2021 record to 8-1 advancing to a quarterfinal match vs. hard-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov, who has not dropped a set in tournament wins over Stan Wawrinka and Cameron Norrie.

The second-seeded Greek and fourth-seeded Andrey Rublev are the lone seeds still standing after a wild week in Rotterdam that has seen top-seeded Daniil Medvedev, third-seeded Alexander Zverev and 

This day of play began with another seed bounced from the draw.

French qualifier Jeremy Chardy served 73 percent squeezing past Montpellier champion David Goffin 7-6(3), 7-6(5). Chardy snapped Goffin's five-match winning streak, including his title victory on Sunday.

The 34-year-old Frenchman is now 7-1 in three-setters this season. Chardy has been a tiebreak titan winning all four of his main-draw sets in breakers. Chardy, who saved two match points edging compatriot Ugo Humbert in his opener, will play the red-hot Rublev in the quarterfinals.

"He's a real good player, one of the best," Chardy said of Rublev. "Last time, I lost to him in the US Open. It will be a difficult match.

Both men were strong on serve for much of the opening set as Tsitsipas stamped a pair of love holds.

Reigning Rolex Paris Masters doubles champion Hurkacz bricked a routine high forehand volley and sprayed a diagonal forehand to fall into a triple set point hole in the 10th game. The Pole showed his displeasure bouncing his Yonex racquet off the green court.

That sloppy game cost Hurkacz as Tsitsipas streamed forward behind a forehand and thumped a smash down the line seizing the 40-minute first set without facing a break point. The Greek, who partnered his brother in a doubles win yesterday, won 15 of 17 first-serve points in the first set.

Hurkacz found some slight cracks in the Tsitsipas game and set out to exploit them. Handcuffing the Greek with drive that provoked a framed forehand gave Hurkacz break points. He leaned into a lashing backhand crosscourt breaking for a 4-3 second-set lead.

The world No. 30 tapped a forehand volley to take the second set after 77 minutes of play.

Neither man truly threatened on serve until the 10th game of the decider.

Tsitsipas used the angled slice to draw and error and get to 30-all. Seeing Tsitsipas creep closer to attack a second serve, Hurkacz double-faulted to face a match point. A tense drive forehand volley from the Pole skimmed the tape but made it over denying match point.

The Australian Open semifinalist was in prime position for a volley to earn another break point, but Tsitsipas nudged a drop volley into net. Thrown a lifeline, Hurkacz reeled it in holding strong with a serve-and-volley play to quiet match-point stress and level after 10 games. 

The second seed sealed a love hold with a sharp serve-and-volley to go up 6-5.

Another double fault gave Tsitsipas a second match point and had his opponent muttering to himself, but Hurkacz hammered the wide serve to erase it.

A sliding Tsitsipas threaded the needle with the backhand pass down the line for a third match point. In a crazy match point that ensued a Hurkacz drive crashed into tape and dribbled over. A hustling Tsitsipas barely got up to the ball quickly, scraped back a stabbed forehand then watched Hurkacz's pass fly by wide to close in two hours, seven minutes.

It was Tsitsipas' sixth win in seven meetings with Hurkacz, but these two always seem to stage an epic battle. It was their fifth straight meeting to go the distance, including Tsitsipas' comeback win in Rotterdam last year.

Singapore finalist Alexander Bublik carried a 10-4 record onto court today, including upsetting Zverev here. Tommy Paul flipped the script on Bublik hitting his forehand with vigor, showing all-court athleticism and a little magic touch in posting a 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1 triumph.

Bublik checked out mentally at the end hitting four straight faults at one point and serving-and-volleying on both first and second serves in the final stages.

The 56th-ranked Paul will play either qualifier Marton Fucsovics or Spaniard Alejandro Dovidovich Fokina for a semifinal spot.


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