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Tsitsipas keeps back-to-back title hopes alive with escape of Struff

Tsitsipas keeps back-to-back title hopes alive with escape of Struff

The German posed a serious threat to Tsitsipas, champion last week in Marseille, but fell in three close sets.

Second-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas is two wins away from securing his second title in as many weeks. On Thursday, the Greek handled a tough test from red-hot Jan-Lennard Struff, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, to earn his semifinal berth in Dubai.

Struff, who beat fifth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round, and flattened Nikoloz Basilashvili in the second round—6-0, 6-1, in just 39 minutes—gave Tsitsipas a run for his money throughout the match. The players went toe-to-toe until the 10th game of the first set, which saw the 29-year-old earn three set points on Tsitsipas' service game, and converting the third.

In a must-win second set, Tsitsipas jumped to a 2-0 lead. Struff had plenty of chances to break back, but Tsitsipas managed to fend him off. Serving at 5-4, the 21-year-old fought off three break points to send the match to a decider.

The pressure was on both men at the start of the third set, as the 34th-ranked Struff saved four break points in a 12-minute game, the longest of the match. Both players stayed on serve until Tsitsipas pounced in the ninth game. Four points later, he was through to the final four in three tight sets.

"My God, I had to give it my all out there," Tsitsipas said, fighting a cough. "I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I played him before a couple of times. I'm so proud of myself today. I just fought. I suffered on the court and that's something I'm really happy and proud of."

Tsitsipas will next clash with Dan Evans, who avenged his Adelaide loss to Andrey Rublev earlier on Thursday with a 6-2, 7-6 (9) victory. Evans, who is through to his first ever ATP 500 semifinal—and his fourth semifinal overall—saved two set points in the second set tie-breaker.

“I made a mess of some of the match points, especially my service game at 5-4 [in the second set],” said Evans. “I just stayed in there and knew I’d get my chances. I’m very happy with the way I played. Staying calm is the key, also getting the right balance and being aggressive with my feet. I’m happy to come through and I’ll prepare for tomorrow.”

In the other quarterfinals, top seed Novak Djokovic faces Karen Khachanov while No. 3 Gael Monfils meets fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet. Monfils is on an 11-match winning streak, having won back-to-back titles in Montpellier and Rotterdam.