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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, March 10, 2023


World No. 87 Jordan Thompson upset Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(0), 4-6, 7-6(5) scoring the biggest upset of the BNP Paribas Open so far.

Photo credit: Harry How/Getty

Nursing a cranky shoulder, Stefanos Tsitsipas arrived in Indian Wells anticipating an early exit.

Today, a gritty Jordan Thompson won a long battle sealing a short stay for Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas: I Am Still in Recovery

World No. 87 Thompson rode strong serving and a single break into one of his biggest career wins toppling the second-seeded Tsitsipas 7-6(0), 4-6, 7-6(5) in the biggest upset of the BNP Paribas Open so far.

It is Thompson's second career Top 10 triumph snapping a streak of 11 straight losses to Top 10 opponents since he shocked world No. 1 Andy Murray 7-6(4), 6-2 at the 2017 Queen's Club stopping the Scot's 14-match grass-court winning streak.

"It's a long gap; a few years between drinks," Thompson told Tennis Channel's Prakash Amritraj afterward. "It's super special. I mean, Masters 1000, playing here at the Tennis Garden it's a lot of guys' favorite tournament.

"To get a win like that 7-6 in the third, 7-5 in the breaker, against a Top 10 player and he's just made the final of the Australian Open. It's definitely one of my top three wins."

The 28-year-old Thompson knew he was in with a shot today after Tsitsipas bluntly conceded in his pre-tournament presser he did not believe he was in condition to make a deep run and essentially viewed this Sunshine Double as a rehab period for his right shoulder.

“I won't be pretending or trying to say that I'm the favorite in this tournament or that I have chances of doing well in the next two tournaments because that will be wrong," Tsitsipas said. "So I don't see myself as one of the favorites for the next two tournaments.

“I haven't said this a lot of times in my career, but I don’t think I will be capable of going deep, but so far the main priority is getting my body ready and fixed for the clay court swing."

That premonition proved prophetic though Tsitsipas fought hard, had a shot to break Thompson in the first game of the final set and narrowly missed a final forehand on match point to end a two-hour, 36-minute entertaining battle.

While any loss is a tough one, particularly in the opening round of a Masters 1000, perhaps given Tsitsipas' shoulder concerns this defeat may give him the time to recover though obviously it's a blow to the tournament to lose a two-time major finalist.

This match gave us periods of throwback tennis with Thompson serving-and-volleying on a few key points and Tsitsipas, who only won two return points in the first set, deploy the chip-and-charge and his net-rushing skills as the match progressed.

Winless in five prior sets vs. the Greek, Thompson turned in a terrific serving performance.

Nearly untouchable on serve in the first set, the Aussie cracked 11 aces against no double faults and protected his second serve better.

Twenty-one minutes into the match, Thompson torched successive aces to level after six games. The Aussie mixed his kick serve wide with the slice down the T shrewdly winning 12 of the first 13 points played on his serve.

Shaking off the rust, Tsitsipas shed successive break points at 4-all. The Greek moved forward flicking forehand volleys to save the second break point, holding firm for 5-4.

Despite a lengthy backswing, Tsitsipas often prefers driving his backhand return rather than chipping it back. Thompson continued to test that return throughout the set. The Aussie won 24 of his first 26 service points forcing the first-set tiebreaker.

The man wearing the backward baseball cap pitched a tiebreaker shutout. Tsitsipas netted a forehand to cede the mini break on the first point and Thompson ran with it. Thompson crunched a crosscourt forehand for a fist full of set points. When Tsitsipas slapped a forehand into net, Thompson had a one-set lead reeling off 10 consecutive points to take the set.

The combination of a crisp Thompson serve and a rusty Tsitsipas return saw the world No. 87 win 28 of 30 points played on his serve and smack six aces against no double faults in the opening set.

Nearly six years removed from his lone Top 10 win over then No. 1 Andy Murray at Queen's Club, Thompson was one set frmo a second Top 10 win against The pair traded breaks to start the second set.

In the first set, Tsitsipas couldn't buy a winning return. In the second, he used the clever lob return to score a second straight break for 2-1.

Chipping his backhand return to keep the ball low, Tsitsipas was testing the Thompson serve with more regularity as the Aussie's first-serve percentage dipped to 45 percent in the second set.

The two-time Monte-Carlo champion served out the second set at love to force a decider after 97 minutes.

Thompson saved a break point in the opening game of the final set and rallied from love-30 down to hold for 2-1 after Tsitsipas incorrectly thought the Aussie's backhand was going out and failed to play a reply only to see the shot land on the line.

The Squinting into the sun which emerged from cloud cover in the third set, Tsitsipas powered through a two-ace game to level after six games.

The forehand is Tsitsipas' signature shot. He narrowly missed the mark on a forehand to fall behind 4-5 only to crush a massive diagonal forehand for 5-all.

On the next point, Tsitsipas got the forehand he wanted but flattened it into net giving Thompson match point. Tsitsipas slammed one final forehand that looked like it would land on the line but missed the sideline by a sliver as Thompson stood tall.

Thompson, who defeated Gael Monfils in the first round, will face either qualifier Alejandro Tabilo or No. 32-seeded American Maxime Cressy next.

On a day that saw five Top 10 seeds scheduled to take the court, other seeded stars fared well.

Former Indian Wells champion Cameron Norrie swept Tung-Lin Wu 6-2, 6-4.

The 10th-seeded Norrie improved to 19-3 on the season, equaling Daniil Medvedev for most ATP wins in 2023. Next up for Norrie, who defeated Carlos Alcaraz to win the Rio title, is either Matteo Berrettini or Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel.

US Open champion Casper Ruud repelled former world No. 8 Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-3.

Ruud won 27 of 33 first-serve points beating Schwartzman for the fourth time in nine meetings to set up a third-round clash vs. Chilean qualifier Cristian Garin.

The second round was steep hurdle for Ruud this season, who suffered second-round exits in Auckland, the Australian Open and Acapulco. 

Facing a break point in the seventh game, Ruud pierced the sideline with a diagonal forehand to save it. Though Schwartzman was not convinced and continued to stare at the spot he felt the was wide of the line. That strike helped Ruud navigate a tough hold for 5-2.

Ripping a forehand down the line, Ruud moved in to knock off a stretch forehand volley for a second set point. When the Argentinean sailed a backhand, Ruud collected the opening set in 43 minutes.

Though Schwartzman has been a sharp returner throughout his career, the US Open finalist won 17 of 21 serve points in the first set. Ruud picked the right time to attack winning seven of nine trips to net in the set.


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