Tennis ace survives five set points and wins a 20-minute tiebreak at Cincinnati

Chinese tennis star Wu Yibing on his journey to ATP Tour

American tennis star Taylor Fritz came through an epic tiebreak during his opening match at the Cincinnati Open. The 25-year-old battled Jiri Lehecka on center court with the two players producing a thrilling 20-minute tiebreaker to decide the first set.

Fritz was eventually the winner at 16-14. He saved five set points before Lehecka double-faulted and gifted the set to the Californian on his seventh opportunity. 

The ninth-seeded Fritz lost just one of his 13 first-serve points in the second set and went on to register a 7-6(14), 6-2 victory in front of his fans on home soil. “It was probably as hard as I had, just putting the ball into court,” Fritz said post-match when asked about the conditions.

“The courts are fast and bouncy. … Everything wants to fly and on top of that, everything is super windy. I was just trying to put the ball in court. I just had to feel it out at the beginning. As much as I wanted to pull the trigger on big points, if it is not there, it is not there, so you have to do what you feel comfortable and hit the ball you feel you can make under pressure.”

The win saw Fritz improve his hard court record to 29-8 this season, led by title runs in Delray Beach and Atlanta. The American, who is looking to improve on his run to the Cincinnati quarterfinals in 2022, is now 3-0 in his head-to-head record with Lehecka and he will face Italian Lorenzo Sonego in the next round.

Fritz’s countryman Tommy Paul joined him in the second round after he defeated Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic 7-5, 7-6(2) in one hour and 54 minutes. Paul is looking to build on his run to the semifinals in Toronto last week, which included a victory over the reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz.

World No. 10 Frances Tiafoe squandered two match points in the second set of his match before battling back to beat Washington runner-up Tallon Griekspoor to reach the second round. He had a match point on the Dutchman’s serve at 6-5 and another in the tiebreak but ultimately battled for two hours and 26 minutes to complete a 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-4 win.

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He will face tennis veteran and three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka in the next round after he beat Brandon Nakashima 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3. Cincinnati will mark Novak Djokovic’s first tournament in the US since 2021 when he was barred from entering the country due to the coronavirus vaccine mandate.

This is the first time he will play at the Cincinnati Masters since 2019 and he will hope to have a good week ahead of the US Open, the final major of the year. He will open his campaign against Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina tomorrow.

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