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Fritz starts grass-court season with win over Karatsev in Stuttgart

Taylor Fritz Taylor Fritz - The Canadian Press

STUTTGART, Germany (AP) — French veteran Richard Gasquet prevailed on his fifth match point to upset top-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (8), 2-6, 7-5 at the Stuttgart Open for his 600th ATP tour win on Thursday.

“It’s incredible to achieve it,” Gasquet said. “I’ve been 20 years on the tour and I took it to this level in matches. It’s big for me, so I’m very happy with with this number. Of course, I will try to win some more.”

Gasquet, who will turn 37 on Sunday, made a slow start as Tsitsipas won the first three games but he leveled for 3-3, then won the first set in the tiebreaker. Tsitsipas, who was playing his first grass-court match of 2023, fended off four match points — the first with his 19th ace — before Gasquet finally delivered on the fifth.

“I had five match points. It was important for me to win this game. You never know what can happen in a tiebreak,” Gasquet said. “So yeah, I was very, very happy.”

The 55th-ranked Gasquet, who defeated American qualifier Christopher Eubanks in the first round, next faces home favorite Jan-Lennard Struff in Friday's quarterfinals.

“He's a good guy, a good friend, he’s very good. It’s really a tough match for me, but I have nothing to lose and I'll try my best to win,” Gasquet said of playing Struff, against whom he has a 2-0 record.

Struff defeated fifth-seeded American Tommy Paul 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) earlier Thursday. The German player hit 21 aces but could only break once, with Paul saving six of the seven break points he faced.

Taylor Fritz held serve throughout as he started his grass-court season by beating Aslan Karatsev 7-6 (4), 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals.

Fritz had to save set point at 5-4 down in the first set, which later went to a tiebreaker where Fritz raced into a 5-2 lead before sealing the set. Fritz broke Karatsev for the first time at 3-2 in the second set to put himself on course for the win.

Fritz, the highest-ranked American on the men's tour at No. 8, said he was “really happy” with the win and pleased with his serving and returning on grass. Last year was Fritz's most successful season on the surface, where he won Eastbourne for the second time and reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon.

Fritz is seeded second and had a bye in the first round in Stuttgart. He goes on to meet Marton Fucsovics in the quarterfinals after the Hungarian won against Wu Yibing 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.


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