‘It’s like playing in the Colosseum’ – Stefanos Tsitsipas survives scare to edge into Rome last 16
World number five Stefanos Tsitsipas survived a scare in the final set to edge past Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov and reach the last 16 of the Italian Open.
It was the pair’s third meeting in under a month, with Stefanos Tsitsipas winning their previous two meetings in Barcelona and Madrid in straight sets.
However their encounter in Rome was not as comfortable for the man from Greece as the fourth seed battled to a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(4) win over Dimitrov.
The Madrid Masters semi-finalist continued his good form at the start of the match as he raced into a 3-0 lead which ultimately set the tone for the first set, with Tsitsipas taking it 6-3.
The 23-year-old also began to dominate the second set as he broke Dimitrov’s serve in the seventh game looking to sprint to a third consecutive straight-sets triumph over the world number 20.
Yet, the Bulgarian had other ideas, as he rallied, breaking back at 4-5 down and again at 6-5 to level the match.
Despite the final set decider being a closely contested affair, Dimitrov was able to conjure up two match points at 5-4 and 6-5 but the chances went begging.
The final set eventually went to a tie-break where Tsitsipas took control winning the first five points in a row.
Grigor Dimitrov tried to claw his way back into the tie-break however Tsitsipas held firm and wrapped up the victory with a powerful forehand winner to move into round four.
Reflecting on the match, Stefanos Tsitsipas praised the crowd and said that they made it a “great atmosphere.”
The 2022 Monte Carlo Masters champion told reporters in a post-match interview, “It’s like playing in the Colosseum. There’s so much energy coming from the crowd. The people that came and watched the match were so into it, more than us I think.
“And it gave for a great atmosphere and a great gladiator environment on the court.”
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