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Tsitsipas outlasts Baez at Madrid Open; Swiatek advances

MADRID (AP) – Stefanos Tsitsipas felt like his rival was as fast as a cheetah on centre court at the Madrid Open.

Point after point, his opponent Sebastian Baez kept chasing down balls to stay in contention in the third-round match.

The third-seeded Tsitsipas came through in the clutch moments, though, earning a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 win over the 31st-ranked Baez on Monday to secure a spot in the last 16 of the clay-court tournament.

Tsitsipas won the last four games of the opening set and the last three of the third to advance. He broke for 5-3 in the third set and saved two break points before serving it out.

“He really fought for every single point,” Tsitsipas said, “and I’m glad obviously that I overcame this”.

Tsitsipas, seeking his first title of the season, improved to 8-2 on clay. He was a finalist in the Australian Open and last week in Barcelona. He also was a finalist at Madrid in 2019, and a semifinalist again in 2022.

ABOVE & BELOW: Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas; and Poland’s Iga Swiatek in Madrid. PHOTOS: AFP

Women’s world number one Iga Swiatek dropped her first set of the tournament before securing a 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3 win over 16th-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova.

She will be making her first quarterfinal appearance in Madrid against 27th-seeded Petra Martic, who advanced past 11th-seeded Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 7-6 (1).

Swiatek is the first player to reach the quarterfinals or better at eight consecutive clay-court tournaments since Simona Halep made it to 10 in a row between 2016 and 2019.

Third-seeded American Jessica Pegula, last year’s runner-up in Madrid, reached the last eight by beating Martina Trevisan 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.

Second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka advanced after ending Russian teenager Mirra Andreeva’s impressive run at the tournament.

After three straight-set victories against top-40 opponents in her main-draw debut, the 16-year-old wildcard entry lost 6-3, 6-1 to Sabalenka in her first centre-court appearance in Madrid.

Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion and the 2021 Madrid Open winner, has reached the quarterfinals or better in all seven tournaments she has played in 2023, carrying a 26-4 record for the year.

Her next opponent will be Mayar Sherif, who beat Elise Merten 6-4, 0-6, 6-4 after nearly three hours to become the first Egyptian to reach the quarterfinals of a WTA 1000 tournament.

She was already the first Egyptian woman to play in a Grand Slam, and the first to win a tour title. Ninth-seeded Maria Sakkari advanced over home-crowd favorite Paula Badosa 6-4, 6-4, while 12th-seeded Veronika Kudermetova beat eighth-seeded Daria Kasatkina 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (2).

Men’s number two seed Daniil Medvedev twice rallied from a break down in the last set to reach the last 16 at the expense of fellow Russian Alexander Shevchenko by 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.

The victory took Medvedev to a tour-best 33-4 record. He will next face qualifier Aslan Karatsev, who defeated 16th-seeded Alex de Minaur 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

In other men’s matches, eighth-seeded Taylor Fritz beat Cristian Garin 6-1, 7-6 (4), Zhang Zhizhen upset 11th-seeded Cameron Norrie 2-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2) and Bernabe Zapata Miralles outlasted qualifier Roman Safiullin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

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