The Colombian grabbed the biggest win of his career at Louis Armstrong Stadium, where he defeated the fourth seed 6-0 6-1 3-6 7-5 behind 41 winners to reach the second round at Flushing Meadows. The world No. 94 converted his ninth match point after two hours and 48 minutes on his main draw debut at the final Major of the season.
“Definitely one of the best moments of my career,” said Galan. “Definitely the best match of my career, not only because of the circumstances, but also because of the opponent. I am really happy.”
The 26-year-old, who didn’t lose a set in qualifying, won the first 11 games of the match against Tsitsipas with a breathtaking display of aggression. The Greek had his right forearm massaged several times and was not able to win a game until the 54th minute.
But when Tsitsipas claimed that game, the momentum completely reversed. Despite not being at his best, it was enough against the Colombian who started spraying errors on the pitch.
“I think he started playing better in the third set. He served a lot better than the first two and I put the serve on the field but didn’t put any pressure on him. He was always in control,” Galan said. “I think he felt very comfortable in those two sets. I tried to change position a bit when I came back and that was a big change because I was able to come back [deeper] and he wasn’t that offensive on the first ball, so I could do a little more.”
Tsitsipas won the third set and quickly moved forward in the fourth. As that slipped away from him, however, he relied on a don’t lose attitude to parry the first eight match points he faced, most of which were thanks to booming serves.
But after saving the eighth match point, he faced a full-length backhand volley, Galan couldn’t hold. The Colombian smiled at his box after a final shot from Tsitsipas sailed wide and he will play against Australia next Jordan Thompsonwho pushed past the Italians Lorenzo Sonego 2-6, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
“I did not know it [it was over] because the ball was so close. I wasn’t sure,” Galan said. “I looked at my team first, then at the referee. I don’t think anyone knew until the referee [signalled out] and I wasn’t sure. But I’m really happy that I got through this match well.”
Galan went into the match with a 6-0 record against the top 20 opponents, but he handed Tsitsipas on a windy opening night. The four-time ATP Challenger Tour champion took massive cuts on the ball to slice through the wind and put pressure on his opponent, who was struggling to find much rhythm.
Galan reached the third round Wimbledon and his confidence showed against Tsitsipas, especially under duress. The Colombian was stripped of his grip on most of his match points, but he quickly recovered from the disappointment with an impressive display of baseline strength each time.
Tsitsipas has now lost in the first round US Open in two of his five appearances and never advanced to the second week. He made 57 unforced errors compared to 28 winners in his loss.
“He dominated the game,” admitted Tsitsipas. “I just couldn’t go into it.”
Did you know?
Tsitsipas started the fortnight as one of five players with a chance to leave New York at No. 1 on the Pepperstone ATP rankings. He doesn’t stand a chance anymore.