What we learned: Tsitsipas progresses

 - Alex Sharp

Sixth seed overcomes stern Dellien test to reach RG third round for first time.

Stefanos Tsitsipas© Julien Crosnier / FFT

Rewind to Sunday and sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas cruised past world No.110 Maximilian Marterer in straight sets.

However, gracing the botanical Court Simonne-Mathieu, the Greek was taken to four sets 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5 facing the unheralded Bolivian Hugo Dellien to book a maiden third round in Paris. He now awaits the winner of the clash between Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena and Serbia's Filip Krajinovic.

Ready to scrap for deep run

Tsitsipas was impressive against Marterer, making the victory look pretty routine. Dellien though had other ideas.

The world No.86, making his Grand Slam debut this week, threatened to cause an almighty upset, persisting with deft drop shots and flattening his groundstrokes to apply the pressure to Tsitsipas.

Down 2-4 in the fourth set a decider loomed, but Tsitsipas illustrated why he has soared to the top.

Back-pedalling into the tramlines, the 20-year-old managed to whip a forehand passing shot to ignite his charge to victory, a shot which was applauded by Dellien.

A huge roar and puff of the cheeks after converting his fourth match point demonstrated how much progress in Paris means to him. 

Patience and perspective in plotting clay success

Tsitsipas left the court after surrendering the first set to Dellien. He reset and plotted his path back to dominance:

“I took some time. I went to the bathroom. Start thinking what went wrong in the first set. That break helped me. I went inside mentally prepared to fight more, and I was aware of the situation I was at,” said the Greek, highlighting the mental fortitude required on the clay.

“Once I got myself into the right mindset, things seemed to flow my way. And from there, winning the set 6-0 was good confidence boost for me. 

“Clay courts require patience more than any other surface and right strategy. If you're playing the wrong way and your opponent can dictate what you're doing, then you're screwed. So patience, not rushing too much, because there is plenty of time to think. Patience and right execution.”

Net play supplying net gains

For the majority, the clay season represents duelling on the dirt behind the baseline, outlasting their opponent in lung-bursting rallies.

Well, Tsitsipas is a genuine all-court player and should persist on canvassing the net to storm through the draw.

It’s no surprise, the Greek has always approached the net with purpose and his opening rounds have been no different.

Against Marterer the sixth seed chalked up 17/22 (77%) success rate at the net, whereas against Dellien it was slightly lower percentage at 33/55 (60%).

Towards the end of facing Dellien, he even sprinkled in a few serve-and-volley points. Averaging 69% points win-rate at net proves the Australian Open semi-finalist could conserve energy and continue to pick up plenty of free points by coming forward.

Tsitsipas credits his dabble into doubles alongside Wesley Koolhof (Miami final, Madrid semi-finals) for boosting his ability at the net.

“I feel more comfortable coming to the net, approaching. I still feel, although today wasn't my best volleying experience in the match. Doubles has educated me on when it comes to aggressive tennis, and I took a lot from that.”

Susceptible to the drop shot

There is much to admire in the Tsitsipas armoury, particularly his smooth single-handed backhand, so there aren’t too many weaknesses to attack.

Well, Dellien showed one way, capitalising upon Tsitsipas’ deeper court position to win a multitude of points thanks to his canny use of the drop shot.

The sixth seed returned in a Nadal-style position well beyond the baseline and occasionally was guilty of being passive, not stepping in when possible to apply the pressure.

As discussed Tsitsipas is pretty efficient when it is his choice to surge forward. This is minor, but future opponents will certainly be aware of the success Dellien had catching him off guard with the drop shot.