Tennis: In-form Tsitsipas battles into Dubai semi-finals

Tsitsipas celebrates after winning his quarter-final match against Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.
Tsitsipas celebrates after winning his quarter-final match against Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

DUBAI (AFP) - Stefanos Tsitsipas moved into the last four of the Dubai Championships on Thursday (Feb 28) after coming through a gruelling quarter-final encounter with Hubert Hurkacz to win 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (1/7), 6-1 and set up a meeting with Gael Monfils.

The Greek had to dig deep to get past Hurkacz, who knocked out top seed Kei Nishikori in the second round, going the distance in the first two sets and being broken when serving for the match, before seeing off the world number 77 after more than two-and-a-quarter hours.

"The breaks I got in the third set refreshed my mind. I was able to raise my level," Tsitsipas said.

"I knew that if I kept fighting, more chances would come - and they did."

Fifth seed Tsitsipas is on a collision course with Roger Federer, who is in search of his 100th career title and lost to Tsitsipas in the Australian Open fourth round.

The pair will meet in Saturday's final if Federer beats Marton Fucsovics later on Thursday and each win their respective semis, with Tsitsipas taking on Monfils on Friday.

Frenchman Monfils will return to the world top 20 on Monday after battling into the semi-finals with a 6-1, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2 win over qualifier Ricardas Berankis.

'ANGRY' MONFILS THROUGH

Unseeded Monfils, 32, revealed that he needed to get angry with himself to get over the line after missing chances to close out a straight-sets victory when a set up and leading the second 5-4.

"It was tough mentally, I was upset that I didn't finish it (then). I had to get angry to find the energy to come back," he said after coming from a break down to storm the final set.

"I was playing flat, I knew I had to do something.

"My opponent was very brave, he went for his shots, came to the net and made it difficult."

Monfils' performance dipped drastically after ripping through the opening set in 23 minutes, losing the second and rediscovering his game only just in time to claim the victory.

In the end it took nearly two hours for Monfils to beat Berankis, ranked 113 in the world and playing his first quarter-final since October.

"The last three games was just pure anger. I was aggressive, but I was little bit worried," Monfils said.

"I wanted this match even more. The intensity, definitely it's something positive."