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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Saturday, April 27, 2024


World No. 118 Thiago Monteiro swept Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 to roll into the Mutua Madrid Open third round for the first time.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty

Determination and deception are essential elements of Thiago Monteiro's game.

Today, a hungry Monteiro made Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas disappear from the Magic Box.

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World No. 118 Monteiro swept a subdued Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 to roll into the Mutua Madrid Open third round for the first time.

The Brazilian left-hander played bold baseline tennis, repeatedly attacking the Greek's one-handed backhand to score his fourth career Top 10 triumph.

Afterward, Tsitsipas said his first encounter with Monteiro felt like a punishing experience at times.

"I had a very good opponent on the other side of the net. He was coming up with great shots and punishing me every single time I played short," Tsitsipas said. "Didn't manage to get the depth of the court. He was very aggressive, very persistent. His first-serve percentage was pretty high, very good first-serve percentage of about 86%, I believe.

"I just wish I was able to return the way I did in the last game. I felt out of rhythm the entire match on my returns. I felt very disbalanced and just, like, my body was going all over the place."

Former French Open finalist Tsitsipas carried a 10-1 clay-court record onto Arantxa Sanchez Stadium court, including claiming his third Monte-Carlo crown and contesting his fourth Barcelona final.

None of that mattered much to Monteiro, who outplayed the former world No. 3 from start to finish. Monteiro will face 30th-seeded Czech Jiri Lehecka in round three.

Sliding his lefty slice serve out wide into the Tsitsipas one-handed backhand return, Monteiro smacked 24 winners, including firing his lefty forehand down the line on pivotal points. Monteiro served 89 percent, won 76 percent of his first-serve points and faced the lone break point he faced in the final game of a confident 96-minute victory.

"For sure one of the biggest wins of my career,” said Monteiro, after raising his Top 10 record to 4-6. “I knew it was a really tough match and I tried to just believe in myself all the time. I was feeling really good today on the court.

"With these conditions, I usually like to play a lot on clay and at altitude. I’ve played three matches already so I had a little bit of rhythm and confidence, so I just fought to the end and believed I could win this match.”

The sixth-seeded Tsitsipas surrendered serve at 15 in the third game. Monteiro was controlling the center of the court reeling off eight of 10 points to stretch his lead to 3-1.

Monteiro, who served an astounding 89 percent in the match, streaked through 12 of his final 13 service points in the opener to snatch a one-set lead.

"I was feeling really good the serve today. Here in the conditions, the serve, especially the left serve, works really well," Monteiro said. "The ball was bouncing high. I mean, it's really important against these big guys, big players like Stefanos, top-10 players, it's really important to serve really well.

"I was really focused and do well with my serve games. Today worked a little bit better than I expected, but it was a really good game for my part. I played well also some return games, which is not easy against him that he normally serves really good too. So I was just trying to be aggressive in the serve and also in the returns, and I create some good opportunities on the match. I was feeling good the ball. I was confident."

The lanky Tsitsipas had reached the quarterfinals in nine of the last 10 clay ATP Masters 1000 events since the start of 2021 season.

Though he's played primarily at the Challenger level this season, Monteiro looked comfortable going toe-to-toe with Tsitsipas in baseline exchanges.

The Brazilian broke to start the second set and showed no trace of nerves stamping a love hold for 3-5. Tsitsipas saved a couple of match points holding for 4-5.

On his fourth match point, Monteiro drew the error, flipping his Wilson racquet aside and erupting in a celebratory scream. 

"You know, there are going to be a lot of days like this within the next, I hope, 15 years of my career," Tsitsipas said. "It's not a great feeling, of course, but I have to accept it and move on. I did a few mistakes. I was not perhaps 100% ready for this match, and my opponent was 100% ready for this match. Therefore, he walked away with the victory.

"He was just much more there. His senses were more present and he prevailed."

Ultimately, Tsitsipas said the learning lesson from this loss is he must bring the intensity from the start.

"What I'm taking away from this is I saw a few improvements that I managed to make throughout the match. They were quite late," Tsitsipas said. "They came quite late during the match. But I think I try and understand from these improvements that I made and reinforce them next time I step out on the court and I'm faced with the same situation again, playing a player who is hungry to beat me, playing a player who is literally grinding, has played a few challengers in the last few months, and these are the type of opponents that for sure you should be more alert being faced against.

"I really have to continue with humility that I have been showing the last few months and focus on the process that comes with our sport."


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