Stefanos Tsitsipas was given a serious examination before seeing off Zdenek Kolar 6-3 7-6(8) (3)6-7 7-6(7) to reach the third round of the French Open.
Kolar played effectively from the back of the court and also tested the Greek with a blend of slices, drop shots and lobs - but Tsitsipas’ superior power and experience ultimately won out.
Tsitsipas was full of praise for Kolar, who on this evidence has a big future in the game.
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“He drove me crazy,” Tsitsipas said. “It was so frustrating, he was just behind every ball and it was not easy.
“Mr Kolar was putting every part of his body behind the ball and I would like to congratulate him on such an incredible effort.”
An early break in the opening set allowed Tsitsipas to fall back on his booming serve, and he was able to move ahead on Court Suzanne-Lenglen despite the adventurous play of his opponent.
Kolar kept pressing in the second and some front-foot play earned him break points in the fourth game, and he converted when Tsitsipas sent a wild forehand over the baseline.
The fiery Tsitsipas threatened to boil over, but just as he appeared to threaten a shock, Kolar played a sloppy game to allow Tsitsipas to break back.
Despite producing patches of excellent play, Tsitsipas never looked totally happy and he berated himself after giving away - but ultimately saving - set points in the 12th game of the second set.
The set went to a breaker and if it was decided on drop shots, Kolar would have run out an easy winner as he kept picking off his opponent with them. Tsitsipas seemed so bewildered he tried to get in on the act himself, but missed the sideline.
But the contest was more than just drop shots and after forcing an opening, Tsitsipas finally broke his opponent’s resolve on the 18th point of the breaker. After a five-set epic in the first round, the Greek had an eye on a comfortable afternoon.
Not so.
Kolar is languishing at 134 in the world, but on this performance it's not a stretch to suggest he could climb the ladder pretty quickly.
He refused to wilt in the fourth, which was impressive given how much he invested for no reward in the third. The set went to a breaker and on this occasion, Kolar produced elite-level tennis as he worked a lead, kept his foot on the gas and - to the delight of a raucous crowd - closed it out to set up a fourth set.
Tsitsipas shifted the dynamic in the fourth set. The berating of himself stopped, and he engaged with the crowd looking for support. It paid off, as he came through a tough service hold in the fourth game and broke Kolar one game later.
If the scene had been set for Tsitsipas to streak clear, Kolar had not read the script as - despite looking physically drained - he upped his level to break and get the fourth back on serve.
The crowd craved a third successive tie-break and Tsitsipas held serve in the 12th game to deliver it.
Kolar had the chance to take the match into a decider as he worked four set points, but squandered the lot and Tsitsipas closed out the contest at the second time of asking after four hours and six minutes.
More to follow
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