Roman Safiullin works the magic this week in Marseille.
The world No. 163 claimed the greatest victory of his career on Friday by beating two-time champion Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of the Open 13 Provence.
The Russian had come through three tough sets against Alexei Popyrin and Tomas Machac to reach his first ATP Tour quarter-final but showed no signs of fatigue or nervousness as he topped the top seed from the start. departure.
“It’s great to beat a guy like Stefanos, he’s a top player,” Safiullin said after the game. “It feels good to show good tennis today. It was also my first time qualifying for an ATP tournament, so to be in the semi-finals is amazing.
“I’m a bit tired because it’s emotional and it was a big win for me.”
It was an unusually sloppy performance from Tsitsipas, but he was regularly forced into errors by the world No. 163’s ball-striking and variety of play.
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The Russian showed he was serious from the start, bringing a high level in the first set as he broke for 3-2 and stayed calm to serve it, converting his first set point with a clean backhand .
An extraordinary second-set opener saw Tsitsipas save five break points in the opening game, with the Russian refusing to let his opponent settle on serve. Although the Greek managed to hold on, Safiullin had five more chances in Tsitsipas’ next service game, and he remained aggressive to finally complete the break.
Qualifier Safiullin was strong on serve to ensure the early break was enough to seal the set and the match, executing a deserved winner in an hour and 35 minutes. The Russian fell just four points behind on his first serve in the game, with Tsitsipas creating just one break opportunity.
Safiullin, who won two singles matches for Team Russia in January’s ATP Cup, will now face Rotterdam champion Felix Auger-Aliassime in the semi-finals.
The Canadian’s rich vein of form continued as he beat fifth seed Ilya Ivashka 6-3, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals in Marseille for the second time.
– Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 18, 2022
Belarusian Ivashka reached the semi-finals himself in Marseille in 2018 but never looked likely to repeat that feat on Friday as a confident Auger-Aliassime handled everything the Belarusian threw at him to win victory in one hour and 35 minutes.
After winning the first set, Auger-Aliassime received treatment on his ankle but Auger-Aliassime received treatment on his ankle but the world No.9 swept it away to break Ivashka twice and reach the edge of the Victoire.
World number 49 Ivashka fought hard, recovering a break and allowing Auger-Aliassime to stay focused until the end by saving five match points before planting a backhand into the net in the sixth to give the Canadian his 14th match win of 2022.
Auger-Aliassime was happy with how he handled the tough times. “Ilya is a great player,” he said after the game. “He won a title last year, he’s still dangerous, he serves well. I had a tough start for me, served poorly, but I came back well so I stayed calm, and I think I did a very good first set afterwards.
“The second set could have been a little easier. I was a little nervous towards the end, but the most important thing is that I got the win.”