Stefanos Tsitsipas was tested by hot-form Borna Coric in the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia of Rome, but the Greek played a great match, especially on the key points, to close 6-3 6-4.
Last year’s finalist, who is yet to drop a set in this Roman fortnight, is now set to face Daniil Medvedev in a mouth-watering match that promises drama and high quality.
“There are some match up that bring drama…” said the Greek at the end of his match today: “he has been playing well, but I am also. I feel good on court regardless of day or night. I hope I can bring my best as I feel he is playing better than in the years before”.
Tsitsipas started the match strongly with a love hold and then immediately forcing Coric to a deuce game on his serve. The Croat found his rhythm on serve and the two held one after the other with ease until the 8th game. The world number 16 opened that game with an ace, which seemed to prelude another easy hold, but Tsitsipas managed to start the rally four times and four times he took control of it, forcing an error on his opponent.
The break sent the Greek serving for the set, but Coric was not to give up without a fight and with aggressive returns he got himself two chances to go back on serve. Tsitsipas was clinical in those, clearing the break points with an ace and a serve-forehand combo. Seconds later, he had a set point and he took it with a marvellous drop shot that left Coric on his feet.
The second set started again with strong service games, but one the third, Tsitsipas was to find his way to break advantage with two strong passing shots.
Back against the wall, Coric cleared a break points with courage in the seventh game and put together the most aggressive return game of his match to break Tsitsipas in the following game. The Greek seemed annoyed, but he channelled his frustration to play an excellent return game. Down break point, Coric tried to surprise his opponent with serve and volley on the advantage side, but Tsitsipas found possibly his best cross court backhand return of the match to win the point and break.
The final game was almost a formality as the world number four found his serve back and closed in style.
“One word: the crowd”, he said when asked what helped him playing so well tonight as well throughout the fortnight in Rome: “They give me a feeling of purpose and mission when I am out here. It adds very much to the vibe The night sessions here in Rome start to become very fun”.
Now he will hope to bring the same quality tennis to his semifinal match against Medvedev. The two, who do not hide their rivalry, have faced each other 11 times, with Tsitsipas winning 4 of those matches, but most notably the last two.