With Dad's Shoelaces, Tsitsipas Upsets Goffin
Who needs shoelaces to win an ATP World Tour quarter-final?
Greek #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas was up against a motivated World No. 10 David Goffin in Antwerp, with the in-form top seed battling for a spot in the Nitto ATP Finals in November. Tsitsipas’ shoelaces on his left sneaker broke from sliding, and by the end of the second set his replacement set did as well. It was no problem for the 19 year old, who had never been in an ATP World Tour quarter-final, and has qualified at his past five tour-level events. He borrowed his father’s laces and went on to defeat Goffin, 2-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(4) in two hours, 33 minutes at the European Open on Friday.
“I felt really happy that I could play this way. It’s a very important victory for me today,” said Tsitsipas, who has high hopes for the rest of the week and his future. “Keep my level at the level I was playing today, maybe even better and things will come. They come with time.”
It was Tsitsipas’ first victory over a Top 10 player in the Emirates ATP Rankings after claiming his first ATP World Tour win just last week at the Shanghai Rolex Masters (d. Khachanov).
The 6’4” rising star maintained his hopes of qualifying for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals, moving from No. 13 at the beginning of the week to the No. 10 spot with 547 points. If Tsitsipas goes on to claim his first ATP World Tour title, he will sit in ninth, 65 points behind No. 7 Daniil Medvedev, who currently occupies the final automatic qualifying spot in the Race.
It was a tough blow for Goffin, who is in a battle to earn his London spot. The Belgian, who won back-to-back titles at the Shenzhen Open and the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2017, is eighth in the Race with 2,750 points. And while he currently would be the seventh player to qualify because No. 7 Stan Wawrinka is out for the season due to injury, No. 9 Pablo Carreno Busta, No. 11 Sam Querrey and No. 12 Kevin Anderson are all within 300 points.
Goffin had three break chances in the 16-point third game of the second set to gain what would have been a break, but he could not convert. And while Tsitsipas failed to serve out the match twice — at 5-4 and 6-5 in the decider — he triumphed on his first match point in the final-set tie-break.
Tsitsipas will play fourth seed Diego Schwartzman, who beat fifth seed David Ferrer, 7-5, 6-2.
In the other half of the draw, No. 2 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga continued his pursuit of a fourth title (Rotterdam, Marseille, Lyon) this season by defeating compatriot Julien Benneteau, 7-6(5), 6-2.
It was Tsonga’s third win in his past four tries against Benneteau, after not playing his fellow Frenchman since losing to him at the BNP Paribas Open in 2014. Nine of 12 points in the tie-break went to the returner, and Tsonga carried the momentum of winning it into the second set, breaking twice to advance to his fifth semi-final of the season.
Tsonga will play an opponent he has never faced in the final Belgian remaining in the draw, Ruben Bemelmans, who clawed past Joao Sousa, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.