LONDON — American Frances Tiafoe caused the first big upset of the Wimbledon men’s singles tournament by beating third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas (6-4, 6-4, 6-3) on Monday.
Tsitsipas, playing his first match since his French Open final defeat by Novak Djokovic on June 13, was on the backfoot from the beginning against a 57th-ranked opponent who took the game to him.
The Greek also went out in the opening round on his last previous appearance at the grasscourt tournament in 2019, when he was seventh seed. Wimbledon was not played last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It sounds pretty damn good,” Tiafoe told the cheering 6,000 strong Court One crowd, sheltered by a roof from the drizzle outside, as the result was read out.
“Definitely, one of my best (matches). From start to finish, it was pretty clean.
“This is what you train for, this is what it’s all about. I live for these kind of moments. If you’d seen me on the sidecourts, you might have seen a different performance today but I love this… got to make something good happen.”
Tiafoe broke serve in the opening game and it set the tone for a match in which Tsitsipas, who had said at the weekend that he was feeling more confident on grass, showed only occasional flashes of brilliance.
He failed to convert any of his six break points.
Tiafoe went 5-4 up in the second set, after Tsitsipas saved two break points, and held his nerve when the Greek had three chances to break back.
The American broke serve again at the start of the third set, saved two break points and then had three match points on Tsitsipas’ serve to wrap things up in just over two hours. He did it on the third as Tsitsipas netted a backhand.
“I’ve made a ton of changes and I’m trying to just move the right way. Obviously, I’m not even close to where I want to be,” said the 23-year-old Tiafoe of his performances to date. “I haven’t even scratched the surface.
“Today was big. I definitely needed that. That guy’s special, he’s going to do a lot of great things… but not today.”
Tsitsipas still has the doubles to play with his younger brother Petros.
Tiafoe’s next opponent will be Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena or Canadian Vasek Pospisil. — Reuters