Tsitsipas roars into French Open final

·3-min read

Stefanos Tsitsipas has delivered a historic breakthrough performance, becoming the first Greek player to make a grand slam final as he repelled a stirring Alexander Zverev fightback over five titanic sets at the French Open.

After three previous semi-final disappointments, it felt like Tsitsipas's moment had truly arrived on Friday at Roland Garros as the 22-year-old outstayed one of his rivals to win 6-3 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3.

It left a drained, tearful Tsitsipas to say on court: "It was very difficult, very emotional.

"I went through a lot of phases of emotional breakdowns, but this win means a lot, the most important one of my career so far.

"All I can think of is my roots, where I came from, a really small place outside Athens. My dream was to play in a big stadium at the French Open one day, but I never thought I could.

"A lot of people today were raising flags, cheering me on in Greece. It was very important for me to do my job well enough."

Yet for an agonising period, it seemed he might succumb to a fourth successive grand slam semi-final defeat as Zverev showed real backbone to claw back from two sets down.

When he earned three break points in the Greek's first service game of the decider, it felt as if Zverev might reprise his victorious comeback from two sets down in last year's US Open semi-final against Pablo Carreno Busta.

"It was nerve wracking, so intense, the most important game of the fifth set. But I came back, stayed alive, had the crowd with me giving me energy," Tsitsipas said.

"I still felt like there was hope."

The German had also come from two down to win in the first round against compatriot Oscar Otte but Tsitsipas fought off the break points to hold, before Zverev served a double en route to being broken for 3-1.

Then Tsitsipas, who had seemed to be unravelling when grumbling to himself at the end of the fourth, kept his nerve even after Zverev saved four match points on his serve at 2-5.

The Greek fired down an ace to clinch victory on his fifth match point after three hours 37 minutes.

It has set up a final against Novak Djokovic, after the Serb's epic win over Rafael Nadal, and saw the Greek become the youngest male grand slam singles finalist since Andy Murray at the 2010 Australian Open.

Tsitsipas got off to a flyer as Zverev's old double-faulting nemesis haunted him in his first game, with a pair of them helping gift the only break of a 40-minute set.

Zverev was stung, roaring out defiantly after Tsitsipas struck a forehand long to give away his first break but after going 3-0 down in the second, the Greek was at his imperious best.

One incredible piece of retrieving, capped by a winning volley as he earned a second of three successive breaks, summed up his dazzling athleticism.

But after losing seven games in a row, Zverev carved out a quick break and then, despite being pressurised throughout the third set and becoming embroiled in a row with the umpire over a disputed call, the German held on to take the third.

After Tsitsipas wobbled again at the start of the fourth, Zverev's serving, by now dominant as he won 16 points in a row on his delivery, ensured the match went to a thrilling decider.

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