Rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas bagged his first career clay court title and first 500 series event Sunday over veteran Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 7-6(4) in the Estoril final.
It’s the young 20-year-old’s third career ATP title, second of the year.
“You really have to fight hard and give your soul out on the court. This title means a lot to me. It’s on clay, it’s one of my preferred surfaces. It’s nice to have completed the clay-hard court title that I’ve been fighting for. Next is grass, or maybe even more clay-court titles this year, that would be wonderful,” Tsitsipas said after beating the 6-time clay winner from Uruguay.
“I was very calm. I stayed aggressive, stayed motivated, didn’t think too much. He didn’t get into my head after he broke me back in the second set. That was kind of frustrating, but I kept fighting, kept believing that I can still win it in two sets.”
Cuevas falls to 0-2 against the Greek. The 33-year-old was trying to win his first ATP level title since Sao Paolo just over two years ago.
While the 67th Cuevas didn’t get in, Tstisipas now heads to Madrid as the No. 8 seed. He’ll await the Mannarino-Sousa winner on Wednesday.
“I’ve been building my game,” Tsitsipas said. “It hasn’t been an easy transition from hard to clay this year, so I’ve been trying to play as many matches as I can before the big events start. Madrid obviously is going to be a huge challenge for me. I really want to do well, get as many points as possible, Rome as well.”
Tstisipas has played in six ATP finals now in the last 13 months, winning three with the other three losses to Roger Federer and twice to Rafael Nadal. He will move from 10 to No. 9 in the new rankings, just one spot off his career-high of No. 8.
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