ThrowbackTimes Estoril: Stefanos Tsitsipas lifts third ATP crown and first on clay



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ThrowbackTimes Estoril: Stefanos Tsitsipas lifts third ATP crown and first on clay

The 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas kicked off the 2019 campaign from inside the top-15, beating Roger Federer en route to the semi-final at the Australian Open, winning the title in Marseille and reaching another final in Dubai to crack the top-10.

The Greek started to slow down a little bit in the next four tournaments, winning only four matches in Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Barcelona and seeking a better run in Estoril where he was the top seed. Stefanos took down Guido Andreozzi and Joao Domingues to find himself in the semis, having to work hard there versus the 4th seed David Goffin.

The Belgian won the opening set before the Greek started to climb back, scoring a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory in two hours and 18 minutes to secure the place in the sixth ATP final. There, he ousted a lucky loser Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 7-6 in an hour and 43 minutes, lifting the third ATP title and the first one on clay, also becoming the fourth player in 2019 with multiple ATP crowns after Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem and Cristian Garin who achieved that some 15 minutes before Stefanos in Munich!

Two years earlier in Antwerp, a teenager lost only five games against Cuevas but had to work harder in Estoril, especially in the second set where Pablo had a set point at 5-4. Landing 71% of the first serve in, Tsitsipas faced only two break chances and gave serve away once, putting the pressure on the Uruguayan who dealt with it nicely considering how many matches he had to play that week, suffering two breaks from four opportunities offered to the youngster and missing that chance to send the encounter into a decider.

Tsitsipas had more unforced errors, forcing mistakes from the rival's serve to erase that deficit, losing ground in the mid-range exchanges but overcoming that in the shortest range up to four strokes to forge the victory in straight sets.

The favorite settled into an excellent rhythm right from the start, keeping his service games safe and moving 3-1 up after a forehand mistake from Cuevas in the fourth game. Serving for the opener at 5-3, Stefanos held at love to wrap up the first part of the match in 37 minutes, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter.

Pablo suffered a break at 15 at the beginning of set number two when he netted a backhand, trailing 4-2 before shifting into a higher gear to make the encounter more exciting. Stefanos did everything right so far but he started to make more errors out of sudden, allowing Cuevas to win 12 out of 13 points and move 5-4 in front, creating a set point in the tenth game on the return.

Tsitsipas saved it with a service winner and survived three deuces in game at 5-6 to set up a tie break that he won 7-4 with a forehand winner for the ATP title number three. Thus, Stefanos became the fifth player born in 1995 or later with at least three ATP crowns, joining Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios, Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov.