Stefanos Tsitsipas appeared poised to escape a significant scare on Monday at the US Open, but qualifier Daniel Elahi Galan refused to let him slip from his grasp.
The Colombian earned the biggest win of his career inside Louis Armstrong Stadium, where he stunned the fourth seed 6-0, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 behind 41 winners to reach the second round at Flushing Meadows. The World No. 94 converted his ninth match point after two hours and 48 minutes on his main draw debut at the season’s final major.
“He dominated the match,” Tsitsipas admitted. “I just couldn’t get into it.”
The 26-year-old, who did not lose a set in qualifying, won the first 11 games of the match against Tsitsipas with a stunning display of aggression. The Greek had his right forearm massaged several times, and it took until 54 minutes into the clash for him to win a game.
But once Tsitsipas claimed that game, the momentum completely flipped. Although he was not at his flying best, it was proving enough against the Colombian, who began to spray errors around the court.
Tsitsipas won the third set and quickly moved ahead in the fourth. When that slipped away, however, he leaned on a refuse-to-lose attitude to stave off the first eight match points he faced, most of which were thanks to booming serves.
But after saving the eighth match point he faced with a backhand volley on the full stretch, he was unable to hold off Galan. The Colombian smiled to his box after a final Tsitsipas shot sailed long, and he will next play Australian Jordan Thompson, who rallied past Italian Lorenzo Sonego 2-6, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
Galan entered the match with an 0-6 record against Top 20 opponents, but he took the action to Tsitsipas on a windy opening evening. The four-time ATP Challenger Tour titlist took massive cuts at the ball to hit through the wind and put pressure on his opponent, who struggled to find much rhythm.
Galan reached the third round at Wimbledon and his confidence showed against Tsitsipas, especially under duress. The Colombian had the racquet taken out of his hand on most of his match points, but he quickly recovered from the disappointment each time with an impressive display of baseline power.
Tsitsipas has now lost in the first round of the US Open in two of his five appearances and has never advanced to the second week. He made 57 unforced errors compared to 28 winners in his defeat.
Did You Know?
Tsitsipas began the fortnight as one of five players with a chance to leave New York at No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He no longer has a chance.