French Open 2021: Tsitsipas beats Zverev in five sets to reach final

Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first Greek player to reach a Grand Slam final on Friday when he defeated Germany's Alexander Zverev in a bruising five-setter at the French Open.

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece celebrates after winning match point during his men's singles semifinal against Alexander Zverev of Germany.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first Greek player to reach a Grand Slam final on Friday when he defeated Germany's Alexander Zverev in a bruising five-setter at the French Open.

Fifth-seeded Tsitsipas won 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 and will face either 13-time champion Rafael Nadal or world number one Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday.

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However, the 22-year-old will have his work cut out on Sunday -- he is 2-7 against Nadal and 2-5 playing Djokovic.

“All I can think of is my roots, where I came from,” Tsitsipas said after the match. “My dream was to play here, to play on the big stage of the French Open some day. I would have never thought that I would.

 

“It was nerve-wracking, it was so tense. I think it was the most important game of the fifth set. I came back, I stayed alive, the crowd were behind me, cheering me on. They were giving me their energy. I still felt like there was hope and opportunities for me to fight back. Your only job is to go out and fight and that’s what I did. It was very difficult, very emotional.”

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The rock-solid Greek didn't give up a single breakpoint. Although in an indication of the fine margins, Tsitsipas only hit one winner.

Zverev, bidding to become the first German man since Michael Stich in 1996 to reach the final in Paris, raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set.

However, Tsitsipas' greater composure saw him rack up six consecutive games to move two sets ahead.

The Greek had seen off three seeded players on his way to the semis.  Zverev had needed five sets to beat his 152nd-ranked compatriot Oscar Otte in the first round and hadn't faced a player inside the top 45 before Friday.

But Zverev carved a break in the third game of the third set and this time backed it up despite a lengthy, foul-mouthed rant at the umpire over a disputed line call.

The 24-year-old German, now fired up, broke in the opening game of the fourth set and levelled the semifinal in the 10th game on the back of a brutal 27-shot rally.

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Tsitsipas, playing in his third consecutive semifinal at the majors, crucially saved three break points in the first game of the decider.

He made the most of the escape, breaking the German for 3-1 and quickly securing the advantage for 4-1.

In a 10-minute eighth game, Zverev saved four match points, the second of which with a drop shot, the third with an ace.

However, Tsitsipas held his nerve and claimed victory after over three and a half hours on court with his eighth ace of the match.

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