PARIS (Reuters) – Facing three breakpoints in the deciding set against Alexander Zverev at the French Open on Friday, Stefanos Tsitsipas appeared set for another Grand Slam semi-final heartbreak but the Greek somehow managed to dig himself out of the hole.
The 22-year-old, seeded fifth, went on the attack and won the next five points to hold serve in the opening game of the fifth set having witnessed German Zverev wipe off his two-set advantage on the Philippe Chatrier court.
Those were the last breakpoints on Tsitsipas’ serve as he went on the beat the sixth seed with a lone break in the deciding set to book a maiden Grand Slam final spot having lost three times at the last-four stage.
“I’m someone who fights,” the Greek told reporters, when asked about his hold from 0-40 down. “I was not willing to give up yet.
“I think I did few things right that worked in my favour. I was still alive. I was still able to come back to the match.
“It was a breath of fresh air, that first game. I felt revitalised. I felt like now it’s time to take that into my advantage.”
From then on, Tsitsipas found a way to out-muscle the big-hitting Zverev to become the first Greek player to reach a Grand Slam singles final.
He finally ended the three hour and 37 minute contest with an ace on his fifth match point.
“It means a lot. It was a difficult match. It was a match full of emotions, full of so many different phases that I went through,” he added.
“So at the end it was just such a big relief I was able to close it in such a good way. It was just exhausting. I’m proud of myself.
“I actually love what I’m doing. I love that I get to play in this stadium. I’m obviously just blessed to have the opportunity to play against the best and test myself, something that I’ve always dreamed and wished to happen one day.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Berhampore, India; editing by Pritha Sarkar)