Stubborn Tsitsipas survives Murray scare to reach US Open second round

Jonathan Davies in US Open 31 Aug 2021
Third seed Tsitsipas was forced to dig deep by former champion Murray (PA Images)

Stefanos Tsitsipas twice came from behind to defeat former US Open champion Andy Murray in an epic five-setter at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

Third seed Tsitsipas was in danger of falling on the opening day as he trailed 1-0 and 2-1 against three-time Grand Slam winner Murray on Arthur Ashe.

However, the Greek dug deep by controlling set four before an early break in the decider helped secure a narrow 2-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory after four hours and 49 minutes.

Tsitsipas has never been past the third round in his three previous appearances at the fourth major of the season.

He fell behind as Murray broke twice during a dominant opening set.

US Open champion in 2012, the former world number one had two opportunities to double his lead as the second went to a tie-break, but Tsitsipas hung on to level proceedings.

Murray responded well to edge his nose back in front, but his opponent hit back by racing into a 5-0 lead on the way to setting up a decider.

Runner-up at Roland Garros in June, Tsitsipas crucially broke in the opening game and held to eventually scrape over the line in just under five hours.

Former US Open finalist Kevin Anderson also needed five sets to edge out Jiri Vesely and set up a clash with 11th seed Diego Schwartzman, who breezed past Ricardis Berankis 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.

Fifth and eighth seeds Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud also prevailed in straight sets against Ivo Karlovic and Yuichi Sugita respectively, as did Grigor Dimitrov against Sam Riffice.

British number one Dan Evans required four sets to overcome Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro, while 12th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime beat Evgeny Donskoy 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6.

However, there was no joy for Ugo Humbert and former winner Marin Cilic.

Seeded 23rd, Humbert lost in five sets to world number 141 Peter Gojowczyk, and 2014 champion Cilic was forced to retire in the decider having led 2-0 against Germany’s Philipp Kolschreiber.

Over in the ladies’ draw, Sloane Stephens edged out good friend Madison Keys in a tie-break and what was a repeat of the 2017 final.

Meanwhile, three-time runner-up Victoria Azarenka reeled off 11 successive games from 4-1 down in the opening set to defeat Tereza Martincova 6-4, 6-0.

French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova also prevailed in straight sets against Astra Sharma, as did two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza over Donna Vekic.

Teenage sensation Coco Gauff and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber recovered from losing the opening set to see off Magda Linette and Dayana Yastremska respectively while Simona Halep, who missed Roland Garros and Wimbledon, marked her Slam return with a 6-4, 7-6 triumph over Camila Giorgi.

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