Estoril Open QF day: Stefanos Tsitsipas beats local hero, battles to the finish on center court
Manuel Traquete, Tennis Atlantic
Friday was a very long day at the Estoril Open, with every match being long and tightly contested until the end. The day began with fast rising Stefanos Tsitsipas taking on local hero João Domingues. While Tsitsipas winning came as a surprise to no one, the manner in which he did might have. Domingues put up an incredible fight and was unlikely not take at least a set. He was bold, aggressive and was hitting great shots. He broke early and has 30-0 when serving for the first set, but couldn’t close it. He had already been close to beating Kevin Anderson at this same venue 2 years ago, but just like then he couldn’t get the big win with his opponent’s superior experience and pedigree coming through in the end.
Tsitsipas’s opponent will be David Goffin, who won a very long and tense match against Jaziri. He started strong and took an early break only to give it away and lose the first set 4-6; he was up a double break on two occasions in the second set, including at 5-2, but once again just couldn’t capitalize and only barely eeked out a tiebreak to then barely sweat in the deciding set. Goffin’s level was far from good and incredibly far from the one that took him as high as #7 in the world less than 2 years ago. Winning in this manner might be what he needs to start regaining his lost confidence. Beating Tsitsipas in the semifinal would of course go even further towards it, but it’s a difficult bet for anyone to made judging by their respective levels so far this year.
The second semifinal will be played between the two night session winners: Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Pablo Cuevas. Davidovich Fokina won a pulsating match against Gael Monfils, which had the crowd on their feet on many occasions such was the spectacle produced by Monfils’s athleticism and Dadivovich’s shotmaking talent. At several stages, Monfiils look like he had it, with Fokina looking tired and making a lot of double faults, but in the end the young Spaniard got his scalp with Monfils getting a somewhat disappointing result in his return to the ATP tour after being sidelined due to injuries for a few weeks ago. Monfils still leaves Estoril as a massive fan favorite, with the entire stadium pulling for him and collective disappointment when he was eliminated.
Fokina’s semifinal opponent will be Pablo Cuevas, a veteran of the clay circuit who just keeps going on against all odds. Tiafoe may have made the final last year, but he looked totally out of his depth for the majority of this one, with the second set win really not accurately portraying just how (not) close the match was. Sets 1 and 3 were pretty straightforward with Tiafoe barely able to win points for long stretches. His effort was admirable but ultimately Cuevas is simply the better player in this sort of conditions.
If the semifinals and finals bring half as excitement as the quarterfinals, the fans are in for a treat this weekend as these four players each try to capture their first ever Estoril title.