Stefanos Tsitsipas still looks well placed for another final spot in Madrid but is still some way away at the third round stage right now. Should he see off Sebastian Baez in round three, a run to the semi finals that has Frances Tiafoe as the only potential seeded opponent is one that he will be happy with. The Greek won their only meeting last year, winning their Australian Open clash in four sets.
Having surged up the rankings initially due to his exploits on clay, it is clear that Baez is home on the surface. He has held his own at main tour level too and even has a title on the surface this year, winning in Cordoba. Three other quarter finals show he is not to be messed with although he did struggle early in the move to Europe. After losing in the first round in Munich and Monte Carlo, he got back to winning ways against Marcos Giron.
Dominic Thiem played his best match for a long time but it was still not enough to deny Tsitsipas a win although it did need a deciding set tiebreak to see him eventually advance with 3-6 6-1 7-6 victory. It was a stunning serving performance from the Greek who won 50/57 on first serve while also hitting an astonishing 39 straight for serves during the match too. “It was very physical and I think we both played our best,” Tsitsipas said after. “I’m in a way happy that we were able to show that kind of tennis… Today sort of showed what kind of intensity two guys that play single-hand backhands can bring to tennis. I’m happy I got away with a win. Things weren’t easy at the very end but I just kept fighting.”
While Baez is a strong clay performer, it is not quite as simple as that with the Madrid conditions still favouring more aggressive and non-traditional clay players more. He will likely be unable to end points quicker in a way that Tsitsipas should do, being more used to grinding out points. Tsitsipas will want to continue a strong start to the season and moving one step closer to the final is highly likely here.
Prediction – Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets