Mallorca: Tsitsipas clinches maiden grass-court title, ousting Bautista Agut in three sets

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece celebrates with the trophy after winning against Roberto Bautista of Spain in his Final match during day eighth of the...

Although the post-match interview was predictably awkward as usual, Stefanos Tsitsipas navigated beyond potentially murky waters in his final match before Wimbledon begins on Monday. He could’ve easily crumbled after being broken when serving for the match – against a motivated Roberto Bautista Agut – but held firm to secure his first grass-court title in Mallorca.

long-awaited grass rewards: Wimbledon warm-up complete

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece celebrates winning point against Roberto Bautista of Spain in his Final match during day eight of the Mallorca...

Tsitsipas celebrates after RBA’s unforced error confirms championship point after a 2hr 34min final

Tsitsipas [2] bt. Bautista Agut [5] 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2)

  • “This was an incredible fight and battle… it’s great for tennis that we are able to play at this high level, show our sport [at its limits],” Tsitsipas says immediately post-match
  • This result also means the 23-year-old Greek, a runner-up at last year’s Roland Garros, maintains his 100% H2H record against Bautista Agut (3-0) in Spaniard’s home comforts
  • Latest win – tour-leading 40th – should be perfect preparation for the now-world no. 5, who faces Swiss qualifier Alexander Ritschard in R1 at Wimbledon on Tuesday afternoon

After defeats by Holger Rune, a resurgent Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios in 16 days across three tournaments – Roland Garros, Stuttgart and Halle – you couldn’t help wondering if Stefanos Tsitsipas’ stuttering would continue as it did this time last year at the third Major of 2022.

I vividly remember his straight-sets defeat by an upbeat Frances Tiafoe on Day 1 of last season’s Championships, and while the Greek is almost peerless at his best, he’s also very much a player needing continuity and momentum to embark on deep runs at the biggest stages.

That’s why he looked so happy and seemingly lost for words (in another language) after holding firm against a Roberto Bautista Agut showing that improved with time and could’ve easily got under his skin. Being able to play the big points well while not panicking under duress was key.

When asked during the on-court interview what his strengths were on the day, he joked that serving clearly wasn’t one – especially when it mattered most.

He finished the afternoon with 55% first serve and six double faults, numbers you rarely see from him, but at 6-4, 3-1 up, you could be forgiven for thinking the match was a foregone conclusion.

RBA did well to grab a foothold in proceedings and create some doubt, buoyed by the home support and Tsitsipas’ level dropping.

Into a third set they went and again, the world no. 5 was 4-1 up, you’d have thought it was a formality. 4-1 quickly became 5-5, then 6-6 and a tiebreak was needed to separate them.

Tsitsipas could sense the end was near, executed his shots better and didn’t waver during rallies as his aggressiveness had been channelled the right way. There was to be no recovery here.

If he’s to embark on a deep run at SW19, where his best result was R4 four years ago, he must emerge unscathed from a section featuring last year’s semi-finalist Denis Shapovalov [13] as well as Kyrgios, Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic [26] and you guessed it, Bautista Agut [17]. We’ll see.

Picture source: Getty Images


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