Tsitsipas tops Zverev in 5 at French Open for 1st Slam final
Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas staved off a spectacular fightback from US Open runner-up Alexander Zverev for a 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 victory in a scintillating French Open clash on Friday and booked a maiden grand slam final spot.
Tsitsipas, 22, has long been marked out as a future grand slam champion and has already added the ATP Finals and a Masters 1000 trophy to his cabinet. But he drew a blank all three times he reached the last-four stage at a major before Friday’s semi-final.
After taking a 2-0 lead, he almost saw the match slipping away as Zverev won the next two sets. But Tsitsipas put the brakes on his German opponent, and finally tasted victory after three hours and 37 minutes.
The win made Tsitsipas the first Greek to reach the final of a grand slam.
“All I can think of is my roots,” an emotional Tsitsipas, trying hard to hold back tears, said on a sun-bathed Philippe Chatrier court. “I come from a really small place outside of Athens. My dream was to play here and I would never have thought I would achieve it ...”
Before the start of the deciding set, Tsitsipas went off the court for a lengthy break to change his clothing, fully aware that he needed to switch tactics to nullify Zverev’s big serves and raw power.
But he found himself 0-40 down in his first service game and an agitated signal from his father and coach, Apostolos, to go for his shots seemed to wake him up.
“It was very emotional and this win means a lot. It’s the most important one of my career so far.”
Zverev, who had won all seven five-set matches he had contested at Roland Garros before Friday, saved four match points on his serve to keep Tsitsipas waiting before the Greek sealed the contest on the next one with his eighth ace.
On Thursday, for a brief moment, an exhausted Barbora Krejcikova thought she had booked her place in the final against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and she raised her arms in triumph.
Unfortunately for the Czech, an incorrect line call by the umpire on match point put her celebrations on ice and she quickly realised that she had to do it all over again.
At 7-8, 30-40 in the decider of her semi-final against Maria Sakkari, the Greek hit a forehand that was called long by the line judge, only for the chair umpire to check the mark and call it in.
With the contest swinging wildly from one player to another, the momentum could have tilted back to Sakkari’s way.
TV replays showed that the ball was actually out. Barbora, who is bidding to become the first Czech woman to win the title at Roland Garros since Hana Mandlikova in 1981, then saw off a game point before wrapping it up on her fifth match point for a 7-5, 4-6, 9-7 victory.
She could easily have lost her composure but Barbora barely protested. She patiently went on with the game to finally seal the match in her favour.