A warm Friday in Clube Ténis Estoril hosted a long and battled round of quarterfinals at the ATP 250 of Millenium Estoril Open 2018. Last Word on Tennis was on-site, and those are the highlights of the day:
Stefanos Tsitsipas defeats Roberto Carballes Baena by 6(2)-7 6-2 7-6(3)
Stefanos Tsitsipas kept his momentum, prevailing in three sets and 2 hours and 37 minutes of play. Carballes Baena, who won his first ATP tournament this year in Quito, based his first serve strategy in playing from backhand to backhand, trying to get Stefanos into uncomfortable positions. After exchanging breaks of serve, both players got confortable holds until 5-5, when Roberto started to play longer rallies, punishing Stefanos backhand. The greek, which saved a break point, managed to take the set to a tie break, where a good start from Carballes Baena made him earn the set.
The dynamics changed drastically in the second set, when Stefanos started to find his shots and frustrated Carballes, whose body expression was reflecting discomfort. Things started to improve for the Spanish player at the end of the set, holding his serve twice in order to start the final set with a positive streak of points.
The two players, which hadn’t met before, played a third set of constant changes on the lead of the rallies. Carballes took profit from a erratic start from Tsitsipas (forehand and slice unforceds) to earn a break in the fourth game, which was answered by Tsitsipas with a break back in a game where Stefanos played aggressive shots and Carballes wasted a game point and got broken with two important errors with his forehand. The Greek, which put in play 75% of his first serves in the final set, gained back again the confidence on his game and broke in order to serve for the match, when Carballes raised the level in order to break back and force the tie break. Roberto took profit of three consecutive mistakes from Tsitsipas (backhand failed drop shot, forehand shank and double fault) to earn a 3-0 lead, but from that moment Tsitsipas connected several great point (including a jumping volley which was the shot of the match) and won 7 consecutive points in order to close the match with an emotional celebration (falling on the floor in the same way than last week when reaching Barcelona’s final) and in order to improve his European clay court record in 2018 to an impressive 9-2.
The Next Gen sensation, aged 19, declared in the Press Conference that the key for him in order to come back today was to keep himself close in the scoreboard and keep faith. He also pointed, about having played a lot lately, that the toughest part is to keep the intensity and concentration.
Joao Sousa defeats Kyle Edmund by 6-3 1-6 6-0
Portuguese tennis history keeps being written in Estoril Open today, as Sousa is having a dream run on home soil, reaching the semifinals after coming to Estoril Open this year with a negative 0-3 record in the tournament. Kyle Edmund, who beat him las year in Rome (6-3 6-4), couldn’t develop a consistent attacking tennis against a fighting Joao, slicing all across the baseline and showing good defensive skills on clay.
In the first set, both players started strong in their serves, but from the seventh game onwards, Sousa started keeping the rallies on his side by playing long points and forcing Edmund to do mistakes. Joao ended up converting the third break point he had in order to take the set on his side.
The second and third sets were a thing of pure dominance of each of the players. In the second, Edmund served better while connecting powerful strokes and producing winners. Surprisingly, after a surprising 6-1 on his favour, Sousa changed his dynamics and won 8 of the 9 first points of the third set, taking a comfortable lead helped by the errors of the 1st ranked British and by te warm support of the public. Things got only worse for Edmund, who ended up losing 6-0 in the third.
Sousa will next face the young sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas, with hopes on becoming the second Portuguese player to reach an ATP final in Portugal (after Frederico Gil did it in 2010).
Frances Tiafoe defeats Simone Bolelli by 7-5 6-2
The American is starting the European clay court season with positive results, after his breaking-through success in Miami and Delray Beach, by winning his first three matches and reaching the semifinals in Estoril. Tiafoe, who formerly won two Challenger titles on clay (Sarasota and Aix-En-Provence, both of them in 2017), is confirming his promotion to the ATP level also on clay.
Bolelli, an experienced player in the ATP circuit and on clay, arrived to the quarterfinals as a qualifier losing only one set along the way, but today he couldn’t find his game. Tiafoe based his game on his serve, also looking at powerful strokes and surprising shots (slices and drop shots) trying to keep points short and that strategy paid off for him, as Bolelli didn’t find consistency on his strokes and suffered unforced errors all over the match. As a result of this match-up, Tiafoe managed to avoid a first set tie break and confirmed the tendency in the second set, earning an early lead which he manages to hold until the final 6-2.
The young American star is guaranteed to break the TOP 50 of the world with a victory in Estoril, a challenging goal as he will face tomorrow the defending champion Pablo Carreño Busta, who has been playing at a high level every year at this tournament, with a solid record of 13 victories and 2 loses.
Pablo Carreño Busta defeats Nicolas Jarry by 6-2 2-6 6-1
The defending champion Pablo Carreño Busta prevailed in a tricky battle against Jarry from Chile. After having a comfortable first set in which his baseline consistency was the winning factor, Nicolas started to play inspiring tennis in the second, going strong with the forehand, both cross court and down the line, and also serving 21 out of 24 serving points with his first serve. The two games in which Pablo got broken were tight, with long battled rallies, but Jarry kept the concentration on his game and earned two breaks that he confirmed, closing the second set by 6-2.
In the final set, Carreño kept faith and raised the level, taking an early break which discouraged Jarry, that started producing mistakes in the same shots that let him win in the second set. The Spanish player from Gijón finished strong, and improved his record in Estoril to 13-2. After the match, Carreño declared on the on-court interview that his dream would be to become as successful as Juan Carlos Ferrero in Portuguese tournaments.