Tsitsipas wins after long wait in Miami, Halys rise continues

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2023

MIAMI: World number three Stefanos Tsitsipas finally got his Miami Open campaign under way on Monday with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over Cristian Garin while Argentine Francisco Cerendulo upset fifth-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime.

There were no shortage of upsets at Hard Rock Stadium with 12th seeded American Francis Tiafoe beaten by 59th ranked Italian Lorenzo Sonego in straight sets.France’s Adrian Mannarino beat seventh-seeded Pole Hubert Hurkacz and American qualifier Christopher Eubanks defeated Gregoire Barrere in straight sets.

Tsitsipas arrived in Miami a week ago, had a first round bye and then had a walkover win in the second round when Richard Gasquet pulled out with injury.

”It has almost felt like a vacation this past week, staying in Miami. I glad I got started. It was a difficult match against an opponent who has played good tennis against good opponents in the past,” said the Greek.

Tsitsipas has not be on court much in recent weeks. He withdrew from Acapulco due to a shoulder injury and was beaten in his opening match at Indian Wells this month.

The rest has, however, helped Tsitsipas to recover a little from his injury and although he was not at his sharpest, he did enough to book his place in the fourth round against Karen Khachanov.

Tsitsipas broke at 4-4 in the third set to make sure of his progress against the Chilean, who enjoyed plenty of support from the South Florida crowd.Khachanov defeated Czech Jiri Lehecka 6-2, 6-4 to reach the Miami last 16 for the first time.

Cerundolo was knocked out of Indian Wells in straight sets by Canadian Auger-Aliassime two weeks ago, but it was a very different game on the faster courts in South Florida. The 25th-seeded Argentine was on top from the outset, taking the first set 6-2 and he kept his nerve to triumph 7-5 in the second.

Miami is a happy hunting ground for Cerundolo, who made a surprise run to the semi-finals last year, and he relished the vocal support from his fans in the crowd. “That was another important win for me, I think I played really good from beginning to end,” he said. “It is super nice to play here, a lot of Argentinians, a lot of people, so I really enjoyed it. Last year was amazing, so I’m really excited to be in the round of 16 again and to try to keep winning,” he added.

Exciting American Tiafoe was tipped by many observers to go deep in the tournament but he fell 6-3, 6-4 to Sonego in a game disrupted by a second set rain delay of over an hour.

Mannarino, playing inventive tennis, beat Hurkacz 7-6 (7/5) 7-6 (7/0) but will face a tricky test against the 26-year-old Eubanks who will break into the top 100 for the first time in his career thanks to his victory over 65th ranked Barrere, who had beaten Britain’s Cam Norrie in the previous round.

Eubanks trailed 6-2 in a second-set tie-break before a rain delay of more than an hour and he won seven of the next eight points for an emotional 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) victory. French qualifier Quentin Halys hit 15 aces as he beat American Mackenzie McDonald 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 to set up a fourth round clash with world number five Daniil Medvedev.

Halys had never won a match at ATP 1000 level prior to this tournament but has beaten Spain’s Pedro Martinez and Australian Alex de Minaur before taking out McDonald. “I think I’m just the same player, I am just more confident, I know exactly what I have to do on court and I am very confident in my serve,” Halys told AFP. The 26-year-old said he has sharpened his mental approach to the game, handling better the disappointment of missing out on break opportunities against McDonald in the second set. “I was still very focused, very positive after those games. Maybe in the past I was negative with myself and I am more positive now, maybe that is the key,” said Halys who is ranked 79th in the world.