Munar Maintains Milan SF Qualification Hopes
Spaniard will qualify for semi-finals if Tsitsipas defeats Hurkacz
To give himself a chance to qualify for the semi-finals of the Next Gen ATP Finals, Spaniard Jaume Munar had to beat Frances Tiafoe on Thursday. And Munar did just that, defeating the American 4-1, 4-3(3), 4-1 to earn his first victory of the tournament.
With the triumph, Munar will advance to the last four in Milan so long as top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Polish No. 1 Hubert Hurkacz. Munar’s efficiency in dismissing Tiafoe in straight sets was important, as now it does not matter how many sets it takes for Tsitsipas to beat Hurkacz for him to qualify.
"I did what I had to do, and it's not in my hands anymore. Maybe we can buy a Greek flag or whatever for support," Munar said, cracking a smile. "But it's not in my hands anymore. At least I felt like I was a good tennis player out there today, so this is important for me. At least I will live with that sensation."
Munar was coming off a devastating five-set defeat against Hurkacz on Wednesday. In that match, he came from two sets down, only to fall short in a decider. But this year’s Kitzbuhel semi-finalist came out firing and never lifted his foot off the gas, beating Tiafoe in 56 minutes.
"It was another match for me," Munar said. "I knew I had to play a little bit better tennis."
Through two matches, Tiafoe paced the field in second-serve points won. And in 2018, before this event, the American was 20th on the ATP World Tour by claiming 52.7 per cent of those points. But the 20-year-old managed to win just 35 per cent of his second-serve points against Munar, ultimately leading to his downfall. The Spaniard broke serve once each in the first and third sets, and never looked back after grabbing an early lead in the second-set tie-break.
Munar protected his serve well, losing just five service points. The Spaniard also saved both break points he faced.
Tiafoe finishes the Next Gen ATP Finals with a 1-2 record. The American thrilled the crowd on Tuesday, defeating Hurkacz. The World No. 40 won 28 tour-level matches in 2018, and he captured his maiden ATP World Tour title at the Delray Beach Open.