Stefanos Tsitsipas earned a place in his first Grand Slam final after a dramatic win over Alexander Zverev on Friday by 3 sets to 2.
The 23-year-old Greek kept up his punishing form on clay and will now play either Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal who will be contesting later on Friday for a place in the Roland Garros final.
Tsitsipas won the first two sets 6-3, 6-3. His German opponent fought back and won the third and fourth sets 6-4. In the deciding set, Tsitsipas was dominant. He twice broke Zverev’s serve to win by 6-3 and 3-2 sets overall.
“All I can think of is my roots, where I came from,” Tsitsipas said after the game.
“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,” he says of the first game of the fifth set, when he saved three break points.
“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,” he added.
On Tuesday, Tsitsipas pushed past No.2 seed Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 7-6(3), 7-5 on Court Phillipe-Chatrier to book the semi-final date with Alexander Zverev of Germany.
Maria Sakkari narrowly failed to join Tsitsipas in the finals at Roland Garros on Saturday after losing to Czech Barbora Krejcikova by 2-1 sets on Thursday.
After a titanic battle that lasted more than three hours, Sakkari came back from a set to love down to level the game, but succumbed to her opponent in the final set.
Tsitsipas youngest player ranked in the top 10
Tsitsipas is the youngest player ranked in the top 10 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and has a career-high ranking of No. 5 in the world, making him the highest-ranked Greek player in history.
Tsitsipas was the champion at the 2019 ATP Finals, becoming the youngest winner of the year-end championships in eighteen years. He has won seven ATP singles titles.
Although he has proved in the past that he can indeed play on the clay, Tsitsipas has not favored that surface for the most part — until this year. So far in 2021, the Greek star has lost only to the masterful Rafael Nadal in Barcelona, Novak Djokovic in Rome and clay specialist Casper Ruud in Madrid.
Tsitsipas won his first ATP match in late 2017 and quickly ascended up the ATP rankings the following year. He reached three tour-level finals in 2018 and won his first title at the Stockholm Open. With his runner-up finish at the Canadian Open, he became the youngest player to defeat four top ten opponents in a single tournament.
Since culminating his season with an exhibition title at the Next Gen ATP Finals, Tsitsipas has become a fixture in the top 10 of the ATP rankings and reached four Grand Slam semifinals at the Australian Open (2019, 2021) and the French Open (2020, 2021).
Now he has booked a place in his very first Grand Slam Final — and perhaps his first title.