Roars of Greek Australian fans echoed the Rod Laver Arena as World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Australian young gun Alex De Minaur in the opening round of the ATP Cup.
Stefanos Tsitsipas faced Nick Kyrgios in last year’s leading ATP Cup match, yet due to Kyrgios’ decreasing rank, World No. 23 Alex De Minaur stepped up to the plate to represent Australia in the tournament singles match.
De Minaur entered the match with high spirits despite his loss to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut the night prior. Tsitsipas, meanwhile, came off the back of some fresh pre-season training with his father and coach, Apostolos Tsitsipas.
Tsitsipas secured a break point early in the first set, establishing dominance over his Australian opponent and showing he’ll be a strong force in this year’s summer tournament. This lead was almost short-lived, however, with De Minaur leading the game 40-15 on Tsitsipas’ serve. The Greek ended up coming back to defend his three-game lead.
A very sweaty Tsitsipas brushed away his golden locks to focus on the match at hand. Game 5 saw Alex De Minaur come out with some young, fiery energy. Two excellent serve returns saw the Australian take a break point over Tsitsipas, narrowing the gap to 3-2.
In a match you had to see to believe, Tsitsipas rose from the fire and put increased pressure on the youngster. An unforced error saw Tsitispas secure his second break point of the match.
The two players rode out the rest of the set, landing majority of their serves. Tsitsipas appeared to have keen eyes on the outside line, forcing De Minaur to stretch out on more than one occasion. Tsitsipas won the first set 6-3.
De Minaur started off strong in the second set earning his first two aces of the match in game 1 and 3 respectively. Tsitsipas levelled the game soon after, also claiming an ace to his name.
A deuce saw the two players go back and forth, however De Minaur’s powerful serves saw him gain the advantage and prevent a crucial break point.
Tsitsipas had an unpredictable next few games, delivering world-class shots while also choking easy hits, missing multiple opportunities to capitalise on his Aussie opponent. The Greek still managed to secure an expert ace, drawing the set to 4-4 after over an hour of gruelling tennis.
Alex De Minaur looked as though he might claim the second set early, with Tsitsipas making a detrimental unforced error. De Minaur with the advantage and Tsitsipas at breaking point, the Greek held out and managed to bring the set to an even 5-5.
Bad news came for team Australia in De Minaur’s final serve, with Tsistsipas scoring a crucial break point at the cusp of the match. A silky smooth finish saw Tsistipas finish the match with 2 straight sets.
Speaking in a press conference after the match, Tsistipas spoke about his love for the Australian fans, particularly becoming fond of the chant ‘Elas Tsitsipas.’
The duel between the two nations will now enter a decider doubles match.