The Greek star defeated Tokyo Olympics singles silver medalist Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-2 to reach the last eight in Toronto for the second time. Fittingly, the crowd at the Aviva Centre sang “Happy Birthday” to the winner after he completed the match, and tournament officials presented the 2018 finalist with a cake.
Three years ago in Toronto, Tsitsipas’ birthday was not as joyful. Rafael Nadal beat the 20-year-old Greek in the championship match. But this time, the third seed was in full control against his Russian opponent to triumph after one hour and 19 minutes.
Tsitsipas saved the two break points he faced, and was never under threat. The seven-time ATP Tour titlist did well to take the first aggressive strike in rallies and keep the powerful Khachanov from dictating play. The World No. 28 grew frustrated as he got stuck behind the baseline and was unable to consistently step into the court. Khachanov is more comfortable when he has time, a luxury his opponent did not afford him.
The only times Tsitsipas faced difficulty was at the end of each set. As the 23-year-old served for the opener, he faced his first break point, but responded with a booming forehand winner. Khachanov earned his second chance as Tsitsipas served for the match, but the Greek was too solid from the baseline.
Tsitsipas did not serve consistently, only making 50 per cent of his first deliveries. But the World No. 3 won 93 per cent of those points, relieving pressure during his service games to take a 4-0 ATP Head2Head lead against Khachanov.
Ruud won his only previous ATP Head2Head clash against Tsitsipas earlier this year in Madrid.