Madrid Open: Lucky loser Struff stuns Tsitsipas to reach semifinals

Madrid, May 5 (IANS) Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff looked down and out when he lost in the final round of the qualifying for the Mutua Madrid Open last week. However, after getting another chance as a lucky loser, the German appears to be making the most of the opportunity as he stormed into his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal.

The lucky loser upset fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-3 on Thursday night to reach the last four stage at the Caja Magica. The German will next face Aslan Karatsev, who ousted him in qualifying.

Struff is the third lucky loser to advance to the semifinals of a Masters 1000 event, joining Thomas Johansson (2004 Toronto) and Lucas Pouille (2016 Rome). He has now split six ATP head-to-head matches with Tsitsipas and is two victories from hoisting his first ATP Tour trophy.

It is the high point of a strong comeback for the 33-year-old. Earlier this year, Struff was as low as No. 167 in the ATP Rankings after suffering a right foot injury last season in Miami.

Struff won the first set in a tiebreaker but lost the next one, taking the match into the decider.

Tsitsipas entered the match with an 8-1 record in deciding sets this season and 9-2 on clay in his career, so it was no surprise that he continued to put pressure on the German, who was pursuing the biggest win of his career.

But Struff had an answer for every question the German asked, saving a break point at 4-2 with huge hitting to get out of trouble after misfiring with his forehand earlier in the game. He also trailed 15/30 when serving for the match. But after Tsitsipas saved one match point with a jaw-dropping forehand passing shot, Struff won two consecutive points, completing his victory when the fourth seed missed a backhand return long.