With his back against the wall, top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas found a way on Saturday to reach the final at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament.
The Greek star battled back to end Czech qualifier Jiri Lehecka’s dream run in Rotterdam, edging the 20-year-old 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 to continue his title pursuit at the ATP 500 event.
“He was really pushing me,” Tsitsipas said. “I did not know what to expect, so I was trying to figure out his patterns and his game. He was playing incredibly well after the first serve, pressing and attacking like I had never seen before. I had to stay in the match and I managed to survive.”
The World No. 4 had dropped just one set en route to the semi-finals. But he was made to work hard against a pumped-up Lehecka, who showed everyone why he had upset World No. 12 Denis Shapovalov on his main-draw debut at the start of the week with an aggressive performance against Tsitsipas.
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In a hard-fought match, Tsitsipas found his rhythm as the clash wore on, hammering his heavy topspin groundstrokes with greater depth and consistency in the second and third sets to turn the tables on the Czech and triumph.
Following his one-hour and 53-minute victory, Tsitsipas will now face either third-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime or World No. 7 Andrey Rublev in the championship match on Sunday.
It is the first time the top seed has advanced to the final at a tour-level event since June, when he enjoyed a run to his maiden Grand Slam championship match at Roland Garros. If the Greek can capture the crown in Rotterdam, it will also be the first time he has lifted the trophy at an ATP 500 event.
On his main-draw debut, Lehecka enjoyed a dream week in Rotterdam, upsetting Shapovalov, Botic van de Zandschulp and #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti. The 20-year-old was the lowest-ranked Rotterdam semi-finalist since then-World No. 225 Omar Camporese reached the last four in 1995.