Last year, Stefanos Tsitsipas suffered a heartbreaking five-hour, nine-minute loss to Stan Wawrinka on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. On his return to the same court on Tuesday, the Greek created a better memory, claiming his first comeback from two sets down to advance to the second round at Roland Garros.
“Playing a best-of-five [match] can be very challenging and I am really happy that I will walk away from [Court] Suzanne-Lenglen today with a win,” said Tsitsipas on court.
Just two days after falling to Andrey Rublev in the Hamburg final, Tsitsipas dug deep to outlast Jaume Munar 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 after three hours and 12 minutes. Tsitsipas increased his aggression to turn the tables on his opponent, striking 36 winners in the final three sets to reach the second round for the third straight year.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played a match like this before,” said Tsitsipas. “The emotions and the nerves at the very beginning were not there, but [I made] slight adjustments and tried to find a way to win, a different way.
“It wasn’t working out for me in the beginning. Nothing was working… But I am really proud of myself, the effort I put in and the amount of dedication.”
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Tsitsipas’ victory comes on the same day that Rublev was also forced to rally from two sets down for the first time in his career to earn a place in the second round. The pair battled for two hours and 19 minutes on Sunday afternoon, with Rublev recovering from 3-5 down in the decider to earn his third title of the year.
Tsitsipas improves to 23-9 this year following his five-set win against Munar. The Athens native is in third position on the 2020 ATP Tour wins leaderboard. Only Novak Djokovic (32) and Rublev (26) own more wins this year.
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Tsitsipas will meet Pablo Cuevas for a spot in the third round. Cuevas defeated Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and 20 minutes on Court 9. The pair will be meeting for the second straight week, following Tsitsipas’ straight-sets victory against the Uruguayan in Hamburg last week.
After recovering from 0-3 down in the first set, Munar showcased great coverage skills on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. The 23-year-old consistently placed one extra ball back in play, which extracted errors and forced Tsitsipas to aim closer to the lines with his groundstrokes.
Trailing by two sets, Tsitsipas increased his aggression and moved up the court to get through the defence of his opponent. The Greek won nine of 12 net points in the third set and converted both his break points to extend the match.
Tsitsipas began to find form on his forehand, using the stroke to push his opponent further behind the baseline and dictate rallies. At 3-3 in the decider, Tsitsipas ripped a forehand return winner and used the shot on break point to drag Munar out of position. Tsitsipas claimed victory on his first match point, as Munar mis-timed a backhand approach shot.
Dusan Lajovic needed four sets to move past Rio de Janeiro runner-up Gianluca Mager 6-4, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-1 on Court 9. The 22nd seed fired 49 winners to book a second-round meeting against Kevin Anderson. The two-time Grand Slam finalist broke serve on six occasions to beat Laslo Djere 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.