Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios both advanced Tuesday in Halle to set up their fourth ATP Head2Head meeting in the second round of the the Terra Wortmann Open.
Second seed Tsitsipas was a 7-6(1), 1-6, 6-3 winner over France's Benjamin Bonzi, with his match immediately following wild card Kyrgios' 6-3, 7-5 win over Germany's Daniel Altmaier in OWL Arena.
“I can say playing him on grass for sure is going to be quite difficult,” Tsitsipas said of Kyrgios, against whom he holds a 1-2 record with one hard-court match in each of the past three years. “I'm just going to go out there and enjoy myself. Let's see what that brings.
“He's fired up playing on the grass-court season. I'm fired up too. I really hope to have a great match against him and be able to really sustain the level at its very highest.”
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The Greek found a high level at the key moments of his opening match against World No. 52 Bonzi, dominating the opening tie-break and regrouping for a strong final set after dropping serve three times in the second. After fighting off two break points to start the third set — denying Bonzi a fourth straight break of serve — Tsitsipas rediscovered his rhythm on serve and used three love holds to help close out the match behind a mid-set break.
Tsitsipas fired 14 aces in the match and saved seven of 10 break points while converting on two of his four break chances.
“He made it tough. It wasn't easy,” Tsitsipas reflected. “I had to bring some good tennis at the end and I did. Everything was extremely close. I was really trying to find a little gap… those small opportunities that were somewhere afloat.
“It's one of those matches where I said to myself just go out and enjoy it… It was very spontaneous and very free-spirited. Thats the right way to put it. It really brought something different out there today.”
It was the second grass win of the season for Tsitsipas, who fell to Andy Murray in the Stuttgart quarter-finals last week. Kyrgios made the semi-finals in Stuttgart but was also beaten by Murray.
The Aussie improved to 4-1 this grass season and was pleased with his performance in his Halle debut against home favourite Altmaier.
“I felt pretty good,” said Kyrgios, who did not face a break point in the victory. “It's a great court, indoors.
“I felt like I didn't have my best serving day. But from the back of the court I did everything I could. Obviously it's grass. And he's a German, playing pretty free… he really started to get the crowd involved, got himself going. So I'm pretty happy with the way I closed that out.”
Eighth seed Karen Khachanov also advanced on Tuesday in Halle, getting past Aslan Karatsev, 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-2. Khachanov reached the quarter-finals in ‘s-Hertogenbosch last week before a loss to Felix Auger-Aliassime. He next faces Laslo Djere.