Tennis: Tsitsipas ousted by qualifier, Swiatek coasts into last 16

AFP , Saturday 27 Apr 2024

Stefanos Tsitsipas suffered a surprise second-round exit at the hands of world number 118 Thiago Monteiro in Madrid on Saturday, while Iga Swiatek cruised into the last 16 on a rainy day at the Caja Magica.

Poland s Iga Swiatek returns the ball to Romania s Sorana Cirstea during their second round of the 2024 WTA Tour Madrid Open tournament tennis match at Caja Magica in Madrid on April 27, 2024. AFP


Swiatek, who lost last year’s final to Aryna Sabalenka, improved her record this season to 26-4. She will next face either Victoria Azarenka or Sara Sorribes Tormo on Monday for a spot in the final eight.

Tsitsipas, who arrived in the Spanish capital with only one defeat on clay this term, lost 6-4, 6-4 to the Brazilian qualifier in just over 90 minutes.

The Greek world number seven had a first-round bye and came into the tournament on the back of a third title triumph in Monte Carlo and a runner-up showing in Barcelona in the previous two weeks.

But the left-handed Monteiro looked more comfortable on court, benefitting from having already won three matches this week, through qualifying and the main draw.

Monteiro, 29, landed a stunning 89 per cent of his first serves in throughout the clash with Tsitsipas, who saved three match points in the last two games but yielded on the fourth, to gift his opponent a milestone victory.

"For sure this is one of the biggest wins of my career," said Monteiro, who is through to the third round at a Masters 1000 event for the first time.

"I knew it was a really tough match but I tried to believe in myself the whole time. I was feeling good on the court, I like to play on clay in altitude."

Since the start of 2021, this is just the second time in 11 Masters clay tournaments that Tsitsipas has not made at least the quarter-finals, and the 25-year-old Greek was disappointed by his performance.

"I just wish I was able to return the way I did in the last game," said Tsitsipas.

"I felt out of rhythm the entire match on my returns. I felt very imbalanced and just my body was going all over the place.

"It's not a great feeling, of course, but I have to accept it and move on. I was not perhaps 100 percent ready for this match."

Can still improve

Top seed Jannik Sinner has no such problem in reaching the third round.

He extended his unbeaten record against fellow Italians to 13-0 by defeating his Davis Cup teammate and good friend Lorenzo Sonego 6-0, 6-3 in just 69 minutes.

Through to the third round in Madrid for the second time in three appearances, the top seed will face Jordan Thompson or Pavel Kotov for a place in the last 16.

Sinner dropped just four points behind his first serve against Sonego and faced zero break points.

"I feel like if you serve well here it's a huge weapon," said the 22-year-old Italian.

"I didn't play here last year, so in the two years since I've been here, I have improved many things.

"I can still improve because here it's very different to play; tomorrow is a practice day, so hopefully I can get a better feel of the court."

Over on Manolo Santana stadium, last year's women's finalist Swiatek eased past Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-1, 6-1 to book a fourth-round meeting with home favourite Sara Sorribes Tormo or ex-world number one Victoria Azarenka.

Play started with the roof closed due to wet conditions but that had no effect on Swiatek, who leapt to a 4-0 lead inside 22 minutes.

The top seed got broken while serving for the opening set at 5-0 but that only delayed the inevitable as she struck right back to close out the set on the 40-minute mark.

The second set followed a similar pattern and Swiatek wrapped up the victory with a service winner, losing just two games in the one-hour 17-minute clash.

"For sure the weather is different than last year but still I know how to play in these kind of conditions. I feel really comfortable," said Swiatek, who is seeking a third WTA 1000 crown of the season this week.

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