When Stefanos Tsitsipas stepped off the court after a 6-0 first set that lasted just over 20 minutes, he couldn’t have known he’d spend another two hours locked in an incredible United Cup contest.
Borna Coric eventually took a second set tiebreaker after a cagey 12 service games, in which there were just two break points in total – although both were match points for Tsitsipas.
It was halfway through that set where things got interesting – the contentious moment coming at 4-4, when Tsitsipas was hit with a time violation after discarding what he believed to be a ‘broken’ ball on serve.
READ MORE: Aussie Test greats let rip at cricket’s ‘soft’ rule
READ MORE: Major blunder sees wrong person invited to Masters
READ MORE: Dolphins secure another Bronco for 2023
He tossed it up to the chair for an inspection.
“This is only soft, this is not broken,” umpire Mohamed Lahyani said before adding on the microphone that the time violation would stand.
Tsitsipas responded by booming an ace past Coric.
“It’s different to the rest of the balls,” Rob Koenig said on commentary.
Tsitsipas fumes at ‘broken’ ball
“He didn’t want to use that one, I think that’s fair enough. I think he should have rescinded that warning.”
Coric went on to take the tiebreaker, and was at one point up a break in the third, before the Greek superstar stormed home to win, 6-0, 6-7, 7-5.
Watch the finals of the United Cup, live and exclusive on 9Now and Stan Sport
While serving for the match after breaking Coric for the second time, Tsitsipas had two chances to close it out at 40-15, before Coric rattled off three straight points to be on the verge of breaking back.
Tsitsipas survived that but then failed to convert another match point as the Perth crowd urged the underdog on.
Finally, as the fourth time of asking in the service game, the door was shut.
“What a highly-entertaining encounter that was,” Rob Koenig, said.
“It ebbed, it flowed … quality shot-making from both, raw athleticism – it’s team Greece that come out on top.”
It was a sorely-needed win for the top-ranked Greek team, who had gone 1-0 down in the best-of-five city finals after Despina Papamichail lost 6-2, 6-0 to Donna Vekic.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!