Estoril Open Semifinals: Stefanos Tsitsipas and Pablo Cuevas book finals places
Manuel Traquete, Tennis Atlantic
Just like the quarterfinals, long, hard-fought battles with a lot of twists and turns were the dominant theme on semifinal Saturday. Eventually, both favorites advanced to contest tomorrow’s final but not without overcoming great adversity first.
In the first semifinal David Goffin vs Stefanos Tsitsipas, Goffin started up great, playing his best tennis of the year to win the first set 6-3 with two breaks. He was moving Tsitsipas around the court with ease and firing winners at will. The second set, however, saw the match take a very unexpected turn, not because Tsitsipas won but because 7 of the 10 games were breaks of serve, including 7 of the first 8, something incredibly atypical in an ATP match. At the end of the second, 56 points had been won by the server in the match and 56 by the returner as well. It was Tsitsipas who emerged victorious of this peculiar situation, with Goffin repeatedly missing forehands on important, a trend that continued in the third set, where Goffin look better and closer to victory for the most part but kept making terrible errors in the most important points while Tsitsipas hang tough and sneaked a decisive late break. Losing in this fashion won’t do any good to Goffin’s continually waning confidence but at least the level is still there. Tsitsipas on the other hand showed why he’s now a top 10 player, winning despite getting dominated for large portions of the match, and will play for his second title of the year tomorrow.Embed from Getty Images
The second semifinal was also a very tight and hard fought contest… at first at least. Alejandro Dadidovich Fokina won a very tight first set by coming through in the clutch but he got broken at 2-3 in the second set in what was the point of the tournament, featuring an impossible Pablo Cuevas no-look smash retrieval. In his frustration, Fokina sent the ball to the crowd, seemingly injured himself in the process and was never the same again. Cuevas would only lose 2 more games the entire match; Fokina won some good points, but looked to be struggling physically, cramping to the finish line. It was still a good week for him, coming all the way through qualifiers and showing he has what it takes to rise up the rankings quickly in the coming years.Embed from Getty Images
In the final, Tsitsipas is a clear favorite, being the far superior player overall. But these 250 clay tournaments are where Cuevas makes his living and he will definitely be a very tough nut to crack. Whoever wins will become a new champion in Estoril.