Millennium Estoril Open: Semifinal Reviews (on-court coverage)

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A sunny and lovely Saturday awaited two upsets in Estoril Open: Joao Sousa will fight to become the first Portuguese player to win an ATP tournament in home soil while Frances Tiafoe will try to win his second ATP title and certify that his game can also suit clay courts.

Joao Sousa defeats Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 1-6 7-6(4)

We could have a local champion tomorrow. Joao Sousa defeated a visibly exhausted Stefanos Tsitsipas after an intense encounter which lasted more than two hours. The crowd was delighted and supported their countryman in every single point throughout the match.

The Portuguese started playing strong tennis, moving all over the court, making Tsitsipas to run from side to side. He also was looking for smart shots, specially on the backhand side–with several short slices when he was getting moved out of comfortable positions by Tsitsipas’ powerful strokes. As a result, Sousa earned the break in the seventh game, and after that Tsitsipas played for resistance, making the closing of the first set to be a tight affair in which he has two break points that Sousa saved–helped by two bad executions of the forehand by Tsitsipas (who hit his head with the racket in the last points and after losing the first set in a total frustration episode).

In the second set, Sousa has a significant drop in his level, in a similar way to against Kyle Edmund on Friday. Tsitsipas dominated the games with ease and closed it by 6-1 in 29 minutes.

In the third set, both players raised their levels and arrived to the final set tie break without facing a break point. While Tsitsipas relied on his serve to make it to 6-6, Sousa clearly earned his way by playing accurate and intense tennis. As a result, in the tie break, Tsitsipas had a visible drop on his fitness shape (which started to be noticeable at 4-4), and together with some double faults surrended against a good player and a boiling national atmosphere.

While Tsitsipas will try to rest, after playing 12 matches in 20 days in 3 different countries, in order to take profit of his main draw wild card in Madrid (plays a qualifier, then Alexander Zverev), Sousa will fight against Frances Tiafoe in order to become the first Portuguese player to win an ATP tournament in Portugal (after Frederico Gil lost the 2010 final against Albert Montañés).

Frances Tiafoe defeats Pablo Carreño Busta 6-2 6-3

Big surprise in Estádio Millennium after the defending champion and clay court specialist Pablo Carreño Busta, who had won 13 of his 15 matches in Estoril, lost in straight sets against the Next Gen star Frances Tiafoe. The American played at a high level, serving solid and hitting strong on the forehand side, also having success with drop shots and deep slices from the backhand side. In contrast, Pablo Carreño couldn’t find rhythm from the baseline, playing erratic tennis and doing gestures of discomfort.

Frances, who felt comfortable playing from the baseline, started strong as he broke in the first game of the match, taking an early lead on the scoreboard from the Spaniard. Carreño Busta forced Tiafoe to play without mistakes on serves, but the American held his nerves and succeeded, earning a second break and closing the set on serve by 6-2. In the second set the story didn’t change, as Tiafoe broke in the very first game (as in the first set) and kept his level high and didn’t allow Carreño Busta to get into the rallies. The match got tighter after 3-1; Tiafoe couldn’t take profit of three break points and Carreño Busta went closer on return, but Tiafoe’s serve made the difference. The American ended the match without facing a single break point, and winning in a long receive game.

Frances Tiafoe reaches his second ATP final and will try to get another title after his success in Delray Beach earlier this year. The American is showing progress on clay, and he will become the first American to reach the Portugal Open final after James Blake back in 2009.

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