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French Open: Ofner’s soaring stopped by Tsitsipas

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French Open: Ofner’s soaring stopped by Tsitsipas

Up until the score was 2-2 in the second set, Ofner kept up well with the fifth in the world rankings, after which Tsitsipas clearly took command and left the Austrian only one game. After 1:50 hours of play, the 2021 Paris finalist used his third match point. In the quarterfinals, Tsitsipas meets the Spanish world number one Carlos Alcaraz.

For Ofner, whose most sensational success so far in a Grand Slam tournament was entering the third round of Wimbledon in 2017, there remains an outstanding tournament for him, the first advance into the top 100 of the ATP world rankings (around 80th place) and with 240,000 euros is his biggest prize money check to date.

“Inhuman Two Weeks”

“Today the biggest problem was that I was just not physically 100 percent there anymore,” was Ofner’s first comment on the match. “It’s generally really difficult against a player like that. But if I really play a good match and I’m 100 percent fit, then I can certainly annoy someone like that with my game.” In the end, however, there was no reason to mope. “In one sentence I would say that it was an inhuman two weeks.”

Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Sebastian Ofner and Stefanos Tsitsipas congratulated each other after the match

“I would like to congratulate Sebastian on his successful run. I’ve experienced that myself. He tried his best and made it difficult for me,” said Tsitsipas on the Suzanne Lenglen court, the second largest of the Roland Garros facility, and paid tribute to his opponent.

Including qualifying, Ofner had spent 13:21 hours on the pitch up to the round of 16. On Sunday, the combination of these exertions with world-class man Tsitsipas was too much. The protégé of Wolfgang Thiem and touring coach Stefan Rettl was ultimately far from being the first qualifier since Uruguayan Marcello Filippini to play in the Paris quarter-finals in 1999.

Break right at the start

“I noticed the third round with the five sets,” admitted Ofner. “I tried everything, maybe make a sentence. A small chance in the first set, otherwise there wasn’t much to be done.”

Ofner got off to an excellent start and used the Greek’s initial uncertainty to break the opening game. Ofner took the lead 2-0 and 3-1, but then had to give up his serve to make it 3-3. In the seventh game, Ofner had a breakball after a double fault by Tsitsipas, but he couldn’t use it. At 4: 5 Ofner fended off three set balls and made it 5: 5, at 5: 6 Tsitsipas used his fourth set ball to break and win the set after 50 minutes.

2: 4 in the second set as the sticking point

In the second round, Tsitsipas managed the first break to make it 4: 2. That was already the preliminary decision in favor of the favorite and two-time major finalist. After just 27 minutes, the second set was over and Ofner was on the losing side.

Right at the beginning of the third set, Ofner had to give up his serve again. This finally set the course for a smooth defeat, Tsitsipas was unstoppable on the way to his seventh Grand Slam quarterfinal (the third in Paris). Ofner didn’t even manage another game. It was his third defeat in the third duel with a top ten player (previously twice against German Alexander Zverev).

Ofner is now on a well-deserved break and will return to action in the Turf Challenger at Ilkley in the UK from June 18th. “I have to calm down for a few days now, process it, enjoy it and then start training again.” After that, qualifying in Wimbledon is on the agenda.

French Open in Paris

(France, Grand Slam tournament, €49.6m, clay)

Round of 16 tableau:
Carlos Alcaraz (ESP/1) Lorenzo Musetti (ITA/17) 6:3 6:2 6:2
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE/5) Sebastian Ofner (AUT) 7:5 6:3 6:0
Novak Djokovic (SRB/3) Juan Pablo Varillas (PER) 6:3 6:2 6:2
Karen Chatschanow (RUS/11) Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 1:6 6:4 7:6 (9/7) 6:1
Holger Rune (DEN/6) Francisco Cerundolo (ARG/23) -:- -:- -:-
Casper Ruud (NOR/4) Nicolas Jarry (CHI) -:- -:- -:-
Alexander Zverev (GER/22) Grigor Dimitrow (BUL/28) -:- -:- -:-
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN/27) Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG) -:- -:- -:-
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