With over a million Euros in prize money, the Rotterdam tennis tourney is one of the hotly contested tournaments on the ATP tour calendar. Fresh from reaching the Semi finals of the Aussie Open, Stefanos Tsitsipas reached round 16 where he had to work doubly hard to beat Montpellier semi finalist Belarusian Egor Gerasimov 7-6 7-5. I like the feel of the Rotterdam court. No audience, just the two players competing with no distractions. Like the great clay court player he is, Tsitsipas played a majestic drop shot at 2-1 down serving(0-15). Egor’s back hand did some damage in France last week. He continued in that vein. Watch the cross court winner in the first set tie breaker to level the scores at 4-4. Tsitsipas was the better server. He used that serve to win the breaker 7-4. The second almost went to a breaker, but Stefanos rose up to take the break in the twelfth game. Egor serving to stay in the match trailing 5-6(Deuce adv Tsitsipas),had the point in control after a decent serve. The weak return by Stefanos set up an easy smash volley at the net for the Belarusian. Instead he played a weak complacent volley which Tsitsipas played back into court in form of a lob. Back paddling, Egor could not get purchase on the overhead smash. The rest was downhill for Gerasimov from there.
Another Aussie Open semi finalist, man of the year 2020, Andrey Rublev beat American Marcos Giron 7-6 6-3 to reach the last 16. The winner down the line by Andrey in the opening game of the tenth game opening set was a joy to watch. Its always especially sweet after the long rally. Rublev’s defensive prowess was on show in the tie breaker, gaining the mini break early and holding with a bit of luck from net cord to go 2-0 up. You make your own luck, by staying in the point for as long as possible, is it not? He wrapped up the one sided (but full of exciting rallies)breaker 7-1. Rublev’s class began to show against the unseeded American in the second set. Watch at 3-0 up second set, first point. Rublev plays the back hand slice to perfection during the rally to keep the point alive. Even though he lost the point it, it goes to show the staying power of the Russian. When Rublev hit a forehand winner past Giron to go up at 5-2 ,the writing was on the wall.He however had to serve out the set at 5-3. Rublev did not serve particularly well in this match, relying on the rallies to get the points. He served out the match with an Ace to buck that trend to win 6-3, one of only 3 the entire match.
In another round of 32 encounter, Stan Wawrinka continued his bad start to the year, losing to another Russian Karen Khachanov 4-6 5-7.