Stefanos Tsitsipas is the first Greek player to reach a Grand Slam final. He did this by beating Alexander Zverev in a tense French Open semi-final after Zverev came back from being down two sets.
The fifth seed Tsitsipas won 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3. Before this, he had lost all three Grand Slam semi-finals.
In the deciding set, Tsitsipas got back on track and stopped Zverev, but he missed four match points before serving out.
Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal will play the 22-year-old in the final on Sunday.
Top seed Djokovic from Serbia and defending champion Nadal from Spain, who is going for his 14th French Open title, will play each other later on Friday.
After winning with an ace on his fifth match point, Tsitsipas raised both arms in the air in triumph and gave his opponent a warm hug at the net.
The Greek then leaned back in his chair to think about what he had just done. At the start of his on-court interview, he broke down in tears.
Tsitsipas took a few moments to calm down and then said: “I can’t stop thinking about my roots and where I came from. I was born in a small town outside of Athens.
“I always wanted to play here, on the big court at the French Open. I never thought I would do it.”
Tsitsipas Wins Despite a Slip-up and a “Intense” Final set.
Tsitsipas and Zverev have been two of the men’s game’s up-and-coming stars for a while, and when the “Big Three” of Djokovic, Nadal, and Roger Federer retire, this could become one of the most important rivalries for the sport’s biggest titles.
Both young men have already won the season-ending ATP Finals and Masters titles in their burgeoning careers, but are yet to land one of the four biggest prizes.
After stopping Zverev from coming back from being down two sets to win, Tsitsipas is now one win away from reaching his goal.
This year, the Greek was the best player on the ATP Tour. He won more clay-court matches than anyone else and won titles in Monte Carlo and Lyon.
Tsitsipas took a two-set lead without much trouble. He played well and was sure of himself, but Zverev didn’t really challenge him.
Tsitsipas was strong from the baseline, while Zverev looked lost and didn’t change his strategy. This made Zverev make mistakes that he couldn’t fix until the third set.
All of a sudden, the sixth-seeded German raised his level and tightened up his game to catch up.
The match was decided by the first game of the last set, which was the deciding game.
Tsitsipas fought off three break points to keep his serve, stopping Zverev’s momentum. He then got the crucial break in the fourth game, which won him the match.
“The first game was so nerve-wracking and intense, and it was the most important game in the fifth set,” said Tsitsipas, who won in three hours and 37 minutes.
“I came back, I didn’t die, and everyone was with me. They made me feel better.
“I thought there was still hope and ways to fight back, so I did.”
Zverev Couldn’t Repeat his Comeback at the US Open.
Zverev, unlike Tsitsipas, had already been to a Grand Slam semi-final and lost to Austrian Dominic Thiem in the final of the US Open last year.
The German had to come back from a two-set deficit in his last-four match against Pablo Carreno Busta in order to get to his first major final in New York. He threatened to do the same thing at Roland Garros.
The chance of this happening went up when he won the third and fourth sets with single early breaks and good serving.
Even though Zverev is still young, he has already played 23 five-set matches in his career. Winning 16 of those deciders showed that he had the mental strength to handle the pressure of another.
But after that Important First Game, Tsitsipas Found a Different gear.
Zverev kept his cool and saved four match points on his serve in a long eighth game, but he couldn’t break in the next game and couldn’t beat a player in the top 10 at a Grand Slam for the tenth time.
Zverev said, “I’m no longer at a point where great matches are enough to make me happy.”
“I lost. I’m not in the final. Was it a good match? Yes, but at the end of the day, I’m flying home tomorrow. There’s nothing good about that.”