German tennis pro Jan-Lennard Struff has reached the semi-finals of a Masters tournament for the first time. The 33-year-old Warsteiner won in Madrid 7: 6 (7: 5), 5: 7, 6: 3 against Stefanos Tsitsipas from Greece, fifth in the world rankings.
Struff was actually eliminated in the qualification of the tournament in the second highest category, but later slipped into the main field. In the semifinals he meets the Russian Aslan Karazew, against whom he had lost in the qualification.
"I wouldn't have thought it a week ago when he took me out - crazy world sometimes," said Struff on the Sky TV channel and was happy about his greatest success to date in a Masters tournament. "Maybe a bit of luck was also on my side. I got a chance and I took it. It's an incredible week." Warsteiner, who has fallen far behind in the world rankings, should now be back in the top 50.
In the sixth duel against Tsitsipas, the German Davis Cup player showed why he had won twice before against the 24-year-old. Struff hit just as hard, acted bravely and had nerves of steel. When the score was 4:5, he fended off a set ball in the first round and won the tie-break with the first opportunity.
A double fault to 5:6 in the second round initiated the set equalization. Struff used his only break chance in the entire match to make it 3-1 in the decisive set. The veteran kept a cool head in critical situations afterwards and decided the game in his favor after 2:30 hours.