Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tipsarevic makes it a successful comeback in Houston

It has been 17 months since the last time former world No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic stepped on a tennis court for an ATP World Tour singles match. The Serb has been away from tennis with an injured heel tendon, but on Tuesday afternoon, Tipsarevic made his return to tennis with a big win in Houston.

Tipsarevic defeated No. 168 Guilherme Clezar after saving two match points, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(7) in over two and a half hours on Center Court to reach the second round of the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships.

Both of Clezar's match points came in the tiebreak, and Tipsarevic saved the first one on his serve to even the score at 6-6. Then after Clezar got the minibreak, he had a match point on his own serve.

Ačiū visiems už palaikymą Daviso taurės metu. Žiūrim į priekį! Kartu su Janko sunkiai dirbam ir ruošiamės artėjančioms kovoms! :)
Posted by Ricardas Berankis on Thursday, March 12, 2015

After a long rally, Tipsarevic hit a sharp backhand cross court and then hit a forehand from behind the baseline right to where Clezar had just been for a winner. He then won the next two points to secure a spot in the second round.

One of Tipsarevic's few public moments
during his time away was at
Djokovic's wedding, where he
couldn't walk on his own power.
Clezar entered the match looking for his first career tour-level victory in eight tries, and he looked to be in good form to do it after getting through qualifying without dropping a set after just reaching the final of the Santiago Challenger only three weeks ago.

However, Tipsarevic, who had no form coming into the match, put an end to the consecutive sets won streak with a dominant first set. Tipsarevic fired seven aces with just one double fault and didn't face a single break point. On return, he won 7-of-8 points against Clezar's second serve and converted the only break chance he needed.

The former US Open quarter-finalist continued to control the momentum early in the second set, getting the early break, but Tipsarevic's first serve percentage then took a sharp dip. He ended up making just 40% of his first serves in the first set and double faulted seven times, getting broken three times to drop the set 3-6.

The deciding set seemed to be taking the same pattern with Tipsarevic breaking early only to give the break right back. However, Tipsarevic managed to steady the ship despite still making only 46% of his first serves in the third set.

After Clezar held to even the decider at 5-5, the Brazilian put some pressure on Tipsarevic, creating one break opportunity after several deuces. The Serb saved it with his 17th ace of the match and eventually got the hold leading into the tiebreaker.

The last time Tipsarevic played a tiebreaker with a match on the line was in 2012 against Milos Raonic in Tokyo. Tipsarevic eventually lost the match, but despite trailing 3-1 in the tiebreaker on Tuesday, he did not have the same result.

In total, Tipsarevic made less than 50% of his serves in the match and double faulted 12 times, which are likely both results of rust building up over the last year and a half. He finished the match with just one more point won than his opponent, 107-106.

Tipsarevic also showed off some fine physical form, chasing down a Clezar drop-and-lob combo over two hours into the match.
Just a couple weeks ago, Tipsarevic made his return in doubles action, pairing with good friend Novak Djokovic, where the pair lost in a third-set super tiebreaker. Tipsarevic was able to enter the tournament with a protected ranking, but in Houston, he received a wildcard, allowing him to preserve one of the eight times he is allowed to use his protected ranking for singles.
The Serb will be back on court on Thursday for his round of 16 match against No. 5 seed Santiago Giraldo. The win gives Tipsarevic 20 ranking points, so even if he loses in the next round, he will be ranked somewhere around 830 in the world.

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