ATP Roland Garros: Stan Wawrinka edges Tsitsipas in battle of the titans


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ATP Roland Garros: Stan Wawrinka edges Tsitsipas in battle of the titans

Former Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka is through to his first Grand Slam quarter-final in two years after a marvelous 7-6, 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6 in five hours and nine minutes. In what has been one of the best matches in Paris in the last 20 years, both players left everything on the court in the fearsome battle that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats from the very first point, with both hitting more winners than unforced errors.

In the end, Tsitsipas won one point more overall (195-194) but it wasn't to be for him, clinching only five breaks from 27 chances and wasting all eight in the deciding set before Stan grabbed that crucial break at 7-6 to set blockbuster clash with Roger Federer.

There were five breaks on each side in the entire encounter and the spectators had the opportunity to see the textbook attacking tennis from both rivals, using every opportunity to attack and keep the points on their racquet.

In the end, Wawrinka prevailed by only just, battling past three loose service games and finding the way to notch the break in the very last moment and enter the last eight. The opening set saw some exceptional serving from both players, with Stan saving a break point in game five and no other chances for the returners who reached only one deuce in 12 games.

It was already a very high level of tennis and Wawrinka was the one who erased a set point at 5-6 in the tie break when his crosscourt backhand found the perfect spot, scoring the mini-break in the 14th point after a double fault from the Greek to take the opener after fluid 53 minutes.

The second set lasted for almost 80 minutes and it turned into an open war on the court despite no less than 14 break points Stefanos created. He converted only three, opening a 3-0 and a 5-3 advantage before Wawrinka pulled the break back with a thrilling backhand winner that made the crowd erupting in joy.

Battling for every point behind the initial shot, the Swiss saved five set points in the next game to level the score at 5-5 but his efforts proved to be in vain, suffering a break at 15 at 5-6 following a loose forehand to bring Tsitsipas back to one all in sets.

The clock had shown two hours and 11 minutes at that moment and it was still an incredible performance from both as they hit more winners than unforced errors in such an intense set with many ups and downs, ready for more in the third chapter that saw Wawrinka as the leader of the pack.

Dropping only five points in five service games, the Swiss fired from all cylinders to leave Stefanos behind, avoiding break points and creating six on the return to mount the constant pressure on the youngster. Tsitsipas gave his best to avoid the inevitable before Stan broke him at 3-3, forcing the Greek to save two set points on his serve in game nine before hitting a service winner a few minutes later for a 6-4 and a big step towards the finish line.

Turning the tide once again, Stefanos found the winning formula on the return in set number four, delivering breaks in games two and six to forge the gap and closing the set with a hold at love and a drop shot winner to bring the deciding set in after three hours and 51 minutes of marvelous tennis.

Our beloved game can be cruel sometimes and Stefanos experienced that in the deciding set, wasting eight break chances in games one, five and 11, playing well behind the initial shot throughout the set until the fateful game 14 when he served to stay in the match for the third time.

Out of sudden, Wawrinka found the range on the return and converted the second match point with a beautiful backhand slice winner to celebrate one of the biggest wins ever and set the quarter-final clash against Roger Federer.