Stefanos Tsitsipas (Photo by: Daniela Porcelli/Sport Press Photo via ZUMA Press)
Stefanos Tsitsipas aims for his first win at the Paris Masters when he takes on American, Taylor Fritz in the second round on Wednesday.
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This is Tsitsipas’ second appearance in Paris, following his debut last season, when he lost to Damir Dzumhur in his opening match.
The Greek arrives Paris in very good form, having made the final in Beijing, and consecutive semi-finals in Shanghai and Basel in his last three tournaments. His only defeats during that spell were against the eventual champions- Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev and Roger Federer- while that 10-3 run has included top-ten wins over Alexander Zverev (Beijing), and Novak Djokovic (Shanghai).
Those results have also secured him a spot at the prestigious Nitto ATP Finals in London, where he will be making a debut appearance. Around the same period last year, he was winning the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.
Given all he has achieved this year, it’s sometimes easy to forget how young he still is, and how much he far he has come over the last year. Tsitsipas began the year outside the top-90, but he had accelerated into the top-ten by the start of March, and has stayed in that elite group ever since. The 21-year-old has claimed titles in Marseille and Estoril, made finals in Dubai, Madrid and Beijing, and reached semi-finals in Basel, Shanghai, Washington, Rome, and of course, that sensational run at the Australian Open at the start of the year.
It has already been a wonderful year- can he add more gloss to his season by claiming a maiden Masters 1000 title? He starts that quest against Taylor Fritz on Wednesday.
Fritz might not have made as much headlines as Tsitsipas over the last 12 months, but the American has also compiled his best season, peaking at a career-high No. 25 in the world. The 22-year-old claimed his maiden title in Eastbourne, and made other finals in Atlanta and Los Cabos.
He also reached the semi-finals in Lyon, quarter finals in Auckland and the third round at the Australian Open and Monte Carlo in his other notable performances this season.
However, his form has dipped sharply in recent months, as he won just two matches in the eight tournaments leading up to the Paris Masters. There was a six-match losing streak somewhere in that stretch, which included consecutive opening round exits in Montreal, Cincinnati, the US Open, Chengdu and Tokyo. He has since managed to win squeeze out wins in Shanghai, Basel and Paris, but he has not claimed back-to-back victories since his runner-up finish in Los Cabos at the start of August.
Fritz opened his Paris Masters campaign with a hard-fought 7-6 3-6 6-4 victory over compatriot, Frances Tiafoe on Tuesday- can the world No. 33 back that up with a big win over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Wednesday?
Fritz has pulled off four top-ten wins this year, the most recent coming just last week against Alexander Zverev in Basel, which highlights just how dangerous he can be despite his recent run of results. The only previous meeting he’s had with Tsitsipas was at the Laver Cup in September, which he lost 6-2 1-6 10-7. (That now counts as an official meeting after the Laver Cup was granted tour-level status).
The American is a tough opening round opponent, but Tsitsipas, given his current form, and him being generally the better player, remains the man to back for this one.
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Taylor Fritz is live from Paris on Wednesday, 30 October from 12:30pm local time/ 11:30am GMT