World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas made a winning start in Hamburg on Wednesday, beating Dominik Koepfer, 7-6 (2), 6-3, in his opening match at the ATP 500 clay-court event.

And it was a milestone win—he’s the first player, man or woman, to 40 wins this year.

Most Tour-Level Wins In 2021 (male or female)
40: Stefanos Tsitsipas (40-10)
36: Andrey Rublev (36-11)
35: Ashleigh Barty (35-6)
34: Novak Djokovic (34-3)
34: Aryna Sabalenka (34-11)

Only three other players have 30 or more tour-level wins on the year: Ons Jabeur, who’s 33-12; Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini, 32-7; and Cam Norrie, 31-14.

Tsitsipas’ 40th win of the year wasn’t easy by any means. Playing his first match since a first-round exit to American Frances Tiafoe at Wimbledon, Tsitsipas dropped serve in the opening game of the match against Koepfer. But he broke right back for 1-all and found the range on his serve from there, losing just four points in his next five service games.

He brought up four set points leading 6-5 on the Koepfer serve, but the German fought them all off—including one with a serve and volley, and two with forehand winners. But Tsitsipas cruised through the tie-break anyway, putting the set away after 59 minutes.

The No. 59-ranked German continued to battle, fighting off four more break points to hold in the first game of the second set, and the two stayed on serve through 3-all. But Tsitsipas shifted gears one last time from there, breaking, holding and breaking again to close it out.

Advertising

Tsitsipas became the first Greek player ever to reach a Grand Slam final at Roland Garros this year.

Tsitsipas became the first Greek player ever to reach a Grand Slam final at Roland Garros this year.

“I think it’s fair to say that things were tricky today. I had an opponent who was willing to fight and give his best performance out there today,” Tsitsipas said afterwards in his on-court interview. “Things worked out for me. At the end of the first set and towards the second set I think I started loosening up, and I felt more flexible in my game.

“Dominik, he’s someone that I haven’t played in a long time, I think. We faced each other many, many years ago, back when I was in the Futures circuit. I don’t remember, but he has improved a lot since then, and I think he’s had an extraordinary year where he’s been climbing up the rankings and improving his game constantly.

“I’m grateful to be in the next round and looking forward to what’s ahead.”

Tsitsipas finished the match with an even 27 winners to 27 unforced errors, with his forehand the shot of the match, producing almost twice as many winners as unforced errors (19 to 11). He was also extremely sharp coming in, winning 18 of 23 points at net.

Up next for the No. 1-seeded Tsitsipas is a quarterfinal clash with No. 6 seed Filip Krajinovic, a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 winner over Philipp Kohlschreiber earlier in the day. Tsitsipas is 2-0 against Krajinovic, but the Serb took a set in both meetings. They’ll meet again on Friday.

Should Tsitsipas go on to win the ATP 500 event in Hamburg this week, he’ll rise from No. 4 to a new career-high of No. 3 on Monday, bumping Rafael Nadal down to No. 4.

The Greek is the only Top 10 player in the field this week.