The most beautiful and exciting match at the start of the tournament is awarded to the Swiss Dominic Stricker, 21, world No. 128, achieved the most important victory in his career by defeating Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas with a score of 75 67 67 76 63 in 4 hours and 4 minutes of play.
“today – Stricker said – I entered the court very focused and felt good from the first set. In the end it was a very tough fight and I’m so glad I lived through the moment. I’m going to enjoy the rest of the day that I will never forget and want to get all the energy back for the next round match. I don’t know how I managed to win after recovering from a very difficult situation. But somehow it worked and I continued to play at a very high level throughout the match. I am speechless, it was a beautiful day.”
An amazing match played by both opponents: 368 points in total (187 vs. 181 for the Swiss) with 150 successful shots (79-71 for Stricker) and 82 free fouls (42 for Stefanos, 40 for Dominic).
Tsitsipas seemed to be in better control of the situation despite breaking at 5 in the first set, a break that cost him the first set. He has more experience, more complete tennis but is always quirky in the subtle stages. He regains a break at the start of the second set, but dominates the second set tiebreak by 7 points to 2, and then also wins the third set tiebreak, this time by 7 points to 5. The Greek led under 0-2, but immediately recovered. Tsitsipas reaches to serve for the match, leading 5-3, but without smelling a match point. Clarity fails the Greek who, as often happens to him, is cramped. When the game is over, it opens up, the show goes on, and the crowd is entertained. The Greek was absorbed, in the tie-break he was still two points away from victory, but the decisive match of the group ended with the Swiss winning the tie-break, by 8 points to 6.
The turning point came in the second half of the fifth set: Tsitsipas wasted four balls to hold his serve and suffer a break from Stricker. The Swiss manages all the goalscoring situations well, both when he’s behind and when he’s in command of the operations.
With the sly left lanes showing, Stricker opens the field well and then plays a forehand from the right side to come out for a 3-0 lead. At 3-1, Stricker recovers from 30-0 to 30, but his clarity does not let him down: a short ball, a high lob for 40-30 and then an ace serve for 4-1. The Greek was blinded by anger: at 15-15 he fired a slam dunk with his whole arm into Streker’s silhouette: the Swiss reflexively put his racket down to avoid a fall.
Tennis is the devil’s sport: When the score was 5-3 in the fourth set, it was Tsitsipas who served the match, and in the fifth set, 5-3, it was the Swiss who saw the victory up close. Tsitsipas hits his opponent back, leading 0-30, but Stricker finds the serve for 30-30. The tape gives the Greek the ball to break the rebound, but Stricker eliminates the opportunity with a combination of serve and forehand. After 4 hours and 3 minutes, Stricker hit a forehand to match point and then with another forehand on the line he scored the most important victory of his career.
For Stricker, who in the second round of the qualifiers saved a match point from Lamas Ruiz before edging 67 64 76 (13-11 on tiebreaker), this was his first appearance in the third round of a Grand Slam. His next opponent will be the winner of the current match between Frenchman Ponzi and American Eubanks.
For Tsitsipas, the innumerable disappointments of his increasingly unknown career compare to the vast potential he has in tennis. Never in his career has he gone beyond the third round at the US Open.
“Entrepreneur. Social media ninja. Music nerd. Award-winning introvert. Beer trailblazer.”