PARIS (Reuters) - World number six Stefanos Tsitsipas clawed his way back from two sets down to beat little-known Jaume Munar 4-6 2-6 6-1 6-4 6-4 and survive a French Open first round scare on Tuesday.
Tsitsipas, a losing finalist in Hamburg on Sunday, looked to be cruising through the first set after breaking the Spanish clay court specialist at the start to go 3-1 up.
But his lead eroded as did his concentration and Munar countered the Greek’s power with some superb baseline winners to race back and win the first set.
Fifth-seed Tsitsipas, who lost in his first game at the Italian Open earlier this month, started crumbling under pressure, littering the court with dozens of unforced errors.
“I don’t think I ever played a match like this before,” a visibly relieved Tsitsipas said in a courtside interview at an empty Suzanne Lenglen stadium.
“It was not working out for me, nothing was working. I made slight adjustments trying to find a different way,” he added. “Everything was not responding but I am very proud of myself for the amount of dedication.”
Trailing by two sets, Tsitsipas, who has had a rollercoaster season so far, buckled down, cutting back his mistakes and playing on his opponent’s weaker backhand.
The Greek, who had spectacularly imploded in a five-set thriller against Borna Coric in the U.S. Open third round earlier this month, was rewarded with the third set when Munar pushed a backhand into the net.
He kept up the pressure to level and the pair traded blows in the fifth before Tsitsipas bagged a key break when Munar sent a forehand long.
The 22-year-old kept his focus and pushed Munar into making the error, finishing off the contest on his first match point to win the lengthy battle after three hours and 12 minutes, another forehand mistake by the Spaniard handing him victory.
Tsitsipas will next face Uruguayan veteran Pablo Cuevas.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris
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