On 10th match point, Sugita edges Tipsarevic in Serbian's ATP farewell

On 10th match point, Sugita edges Tipsarevic in Serbian's ATP farewell

The Japanese lucky loser prevailed, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (4), in three hours and nine minutes to reach the semifinals in Stockholm on Friday.

Janko Tipsarevic wasn’t ready for his final ATP tournament to end. It took 10 match points for lucky loser Yuichi Sugita to finally put away the Serbian.

Sugita held on to win, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (4), in the quarterfinals of Stockholm on Friday, but not before being forced to push through a battle lasting three hours and nine minutes. Serving at 4-5 and 5-6, Tipsarevic survived games consisting of 20 and 22 points, denying the Japanese nine opportunities to shut the door before reaching a decisive tiebreaker.

Tipsarevic erased an early mini break deficit, but it was Sugita who enjoyed the last momentum shift in taking the final two points, closing out the victory 47 minutes after he first held match point.

“This whole week was very unexpected. I was very close to not being in the main draw. Then I played some terrific tennis, beat two really good opponents,” Tipsarevic reflected on court afterwards. “As surprising as this may sound, if I were to choose one of the ways to finish my ATP career, it would be like this. Leaving everything I have on court. And in the end, not being victorious.”

The 31-year-old Sugita, ranked No. 129, will meet fourth seed Denis Shapovalov on Saturday. The Canadian dismissed qualifier Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, 6-3, 6-3, and will look to overturn a 0-7 record in ATP semifinals. Fifth seed Pablo Carreno Busta will face Filip Krajinovic in the other semifinal.

A day earlier, Tipsarevic dropped just two games in ousting world No. 12 Fabio Fognini, what now marks his final ATP match win. Stockholm tournament director Simon Aspelin presented Tipsarevic with a commemorative plaque before the 35-year-old said his goodbyes.

“I see myself staying connected to this beautiful sport, in the coaching manner, in the academy manner and everything that I have,” said Tipsarevic. “Even though I am incredibly sad right now, I feel excited for the next chapter of my life.”

The former world No. 8 intends on making his final appearance at the Davis Cup for Serbia in November before hanging up his racquet.