Tsitsipas Avoids Top 10 Exit Scare After Australian Open Defeat To Fritz

Tsitsipas Avoids Top 10 Exit Scare After Australian Open Defeat To Fritz

by Nurein Ahmed

Stefanos Tsitsipas will retain his status as a Top 10 player despite his early exit at the Australian Open, which should be the only scant consolation for him.

Tsitsipas reached his second Grand Slam final at last year's Australian Open but once again finished second best to eventual champion Novak Djokovic. As a runner-up, Tsitsipas received 1,200 points at the tournament.

On his return, the Greek was hardly in a similarly rich vein of form from 12 months ago when he spearheaded Greece's run to the semifinals of the United Cup, winning all four of his singles duels. This time, Greece's campaign at the mixed-team competition ended dismally in the group stage.

Much of that had to do with the form and fitness of Tsitsipas, who was perturbed by a back injury that stemmed from the close end to last season. Tsitsipas shockingly withdrew from the ATP Fnals with the same injury, and he was berated for it when he retired from his second match at the season finale after only three games.

But despite the lackluster showing at the United Cup, Tsitsipas played well in the first week of the Australian Open, beating Belgian lucky loser Zizou Bergs in a match where he demonstrated his dextrous skills at the net with one of the shots of the tournament.

Victories over Jordan Thompson and Luca Van Assche soon followed to earn his spot in the business end of the tournament. But in his first acid test of the tournament, he came up short. Tsitsipas was beaten by 12th seed Taylor Fritz in four sets, despite his best efforts to distract the American on match point.

The Athens native faced a possible Top 10 exit following the defeat, but luckily, those who were bound to overtake him in the rankings were knocked out of the tournament. One of them was Australia's Alex de Minaur, who was in prime position, having led Andrey Rublev in his fourth-round match.

But the home crowd favorite's defeat in five sets and that of Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov will prolong Tsitsipas' stint in the Top 10 for now. Since breaking that barrier for the first time in March 2019, Tsitsipas has never left it.


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