01:37 AM GMT February 08, 2019
Stefanos Tsitsipas arrived at the Sofia Open for his first tournament after a dream run to the Australian Open semi-finals. The reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion did not disappoint the Bulgarian crowd, showing some of his best tennis on Thursday evening to defeat German Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6(5), 6-4 in one hour and 29 minutes.
After top seed Karen Khachanov was upset in his opener on Wednesday, the second-seeded Tsitsipas is the highest-ranked player remaining in the ATP 250 draw. Last October, the #NextGenATP star became the first Greek player to lift an ATP Tour trophy. The 20-year-old will look to add another title to his resumé this week in Sofia.
Tsitsipas faced just one break point against Struff, in his final service game. The 6'4" right-hander struck 10 aces and won 74 per cent of his service points en route to victory. The 2018 Stockholm winner will next face seventh seed Gael Monfils, who moved through by defeating Mikhail Kukushkin 7-5, 6-3.
Tsitsipas defeated the Frenchman in their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting last year in Shanghai, saving eight of 11 break points to advance after two hours and 22 minutes.
"I have to be careful. My opponent does unpredictable things on the court. Sometimes you don't expect things and he'd play, I'd say, with your mind," Tsitsipas said. "He has seen my game, I have seen his... I just need to be careful and be aware of what he's doing."
Daniil Medvedev overcame an early deficit to defeat Dutch No.1 Robin Haase 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, also reaching the quarter-finals.
The Russian did not face a break point in the final two sets, finding his best tennis to beat the World No. 54 in one hour and 35 minutes. Medvedev is into his second quarter-final of the season, as the World No. 16 began his year by reaching the Brisbane final (l.to Nishikori).
Playing indoors treated Medvedev well last year, as the Russian claimed his first ATP 500 title in Tokyo. He was second on the ATP Tour in victories indoors, triumphing 17 times. The third seed will next face Slovak Martin Klizan, who ousted German Daniel Brands 7-6(5), 6-4.
Sixth seed Fernando Verdasco also was forced to battle in his first match of the tournament, eventually moving past 2018 Sofia finalist Marius Copil 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.
The Spaniard, who is pursuing his first tour-level title since 2016 in Bucharest, is into his first quarter-final of the season. Verdasco will next face Italian Matteo Berrettini, who ousted top seed Khachanov in the second round. It will be the pair’s first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. In 2018, Verdasco won four of his five quarter-finals, and advanced to the final in Rio de Janeiro.
Did You Know?
Medvedev is fresh off his first trip to the fourth round of a major, as he reached the Round of 16 at the Australian Open. While the Russian lost to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in four sets, he was one of just two players (also Shapovalov) who took a set from the eventual champion.