Top seed Tsitsipas overcomes Kukushkin challenge to win Marseille Open

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas. (Reuters pic)

BENGALURU: Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas clinched his first singles title of the year with a 7-5 7-6(5) victory over Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin at the Marseille Open on Sunday.

Tsitsipas, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals last month, battled hard to clinch victory over the 31-year-old Kukushkin in a little under two hours, firing 14 aces and winning 86% of his first-serve points.

Breakpoints were in short supply in the opening set with neither player wilting under the pressure as they held serve however, Tsitsipas drew first blood when he broke Kukushkin at 6-5 to take the first set.

Tsitsipas was seeing the ball very well on Kukushkin’s serve and returns, hitting some juicy forehand and backhand winners straight down the line.

Kukushkin broke Tsitsipas for the first time in the second set and had the chance to break him again to go 5-2 up but the Greek number one saved two break points to mount an epic comeback.

Tsitsipas then won three games in a row to race to a 6-5 lead and was one game away from winning the title before Kukushkin enforced a tiebreak.

The tiebreak went with serve until Tsitsipas broke Kukushkin at the 11th point to set up the win and take home the title, his second after he won the Stockholm Open in October last year.