NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stefanos Tsitsipas weathered a serve-volleying storm from Maxime Cressy before grinding the American wildcard down 7-6(2), 6-3, 6-4 to reach the third round of the US Open.
In a slow-burning contest of short, sharp points, fourth seed Tsitsipas had to fight off a set point against the French-born Cressy, who fired 21 aces and rushed the net 92 times on a muggy night at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Tsitsipas' centre court debut at Flushing Meadows was without fans but he savoured the moment all the same.
"My experience in playing in Arthur Ashe was one of the best," he said generously in his on-court interview.
"Getting a first glance and a first taste of Arthur Ashe is great for me, despite difficult conditions."
Tsitsipas will play Croatian 27th seed Borna Coric as he bids for a place in the last 16 in New York for the first time.
Since reaching the 2019 Australian Open semi-finals, where he knocked out Roger Federer and sent Melbourne's Greek community into a frenzy, 22-year-old Tsitsipas has disappointed at the Grand Slams.
He made the French Open fourth round but struck out in his openers at Wimbledon and last year's US Open, where he accused a French chair umpire of being biased and said French people were "all weirdos."
Having got past the first round this tournament, a calmer Tsitsipas faced 23-year-old Cressy, a former college player in his first Tour event.
Cressy was hardly overawed by the occasion and soon had Tsitsipas under huge pressure, firing down second serves with almost as much fury as his first.
"It's very unusual to be playing a player who's hitting both serves (that hard)," said Tsitsipas.
"He's a player who can play very well in future. His game is very difficult to read and he has a very good serve-and-volley. You don't get to play against players like this very often." Extracting a set point in the 10th game, world number 168 Cressy went for broke with a backhand return but it flew wide to relieve the Greek, who knuckled down in the tiebreak and then roared through the second set.
Cressy scrapped hard in the final set but fatigue set in for the 2.01m American, who was broken in the ninth game, allowing Tsitsipas to serve out a tough win.