French Open: Stefanos Tsitsipas defeats Alexander Zverev in five sets to reach his maiden Grand Slam final
Stefanos Tsitsipas is through to his maiden Grand Slam final at the French Open after holding off a fightback from Alexander Zverev to win in five dramatic sets in Paris; Greek star reaches his maiden major final at the fourth time of asking following three previous semi-final defeats
Last Updated: 11/06/21 6:30pm
Stefanos Tsitsipas made history by becoming the first player from Greece - male or female - to reach a Grand Slam final as he held off Alexander Zverev in a five-set thriller in the French Open at Roland Garros.
The 22-year-old lost a two-set lead to Zverev before holding it together to record a 6-3 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3 win on a sun-kissed Court Philippe Chatrier.
It took him five match points but Tsitsipas managed to get over the line to extend his winning record over the German to 6-2 as he reached his maiden Grand Slam final at the fourth attempt, having lost his previous three semi-finals.
World No 5 Tsitsipas has been the man in form on clay, having won more matches than any other player in 2021, collecting his first Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo before winning in Lyon.
He will now prepare for an even greater test against 13-time champion Rafael Nadal or world No 1 Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final.
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Speaking through tears as the crowd roared in support, Tsitsipas said: "All I can think of is my roots, where I came from outside Athens. My dream was to play here. My dream was to play on the big stage of the French Open one day.
"It was nerve-racking, it was so intense. Fifth set, first game, I think it was the most important game of the fifth set. I came back, I stayed alive. I had the crowd with me. They were cheering me on, they were giving me their energy.
"I still felt there was hope. I still felt there were opportunities for me to fight back and do something. Your only job is to go out there and fight, and that's what I did.
"It was very difficult, very emotional. I went through a lot of phases of emotional breakdowns but this win means a lot. This win is the most important one of my career so far."
A. Zverev vs Tsitsipas: Match Stats
|A. Zverev||Match Stats||Tsitsipas|
|75%||1st serve win percentage||76%|
|40%||2nd serve win percentage||52%|
|3/6||Break points won||5/14|
|135||Total points won||145|
Tsitsipas had fallen three times in Grand Slam semi-finals, first at the Australian Open in 2019 then at last year's French Open and February's Australian Open.
He also boasted a winning record over Zverev but the German has been in good form on the clay as well and, after recovering from two sets down in his opening match in Paris against Oscar Otte, had coasted through the draw.
This was a massive opportunity for both men and there was a huge amount of tension on display, with Tsitsipas winning the opening set despite hitting only one winner compared to 11 unforced errors.
Tsitsipas won six games in a row from 3-0 down in the second set but his relative passivity came back to haunt him as Zverev began to cut out the errors and take control.
The German had a furious row with umpire Renaud Lichtenstein over the official's decision not to replay a point following a corrected line call at 5-3 but did not allow that to distract him.
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2018: first clay-court ATP final— Millennium #EstorilOpen (@EstorilOpen) June 11, 2021
2019: first clay-court ATP title at Millennium #EstorilOpen
2020: first Roland-Garros semifinals
2021: first ATP Masters 1000 title (on clay!)
A Roland-Garros finalist! @steftsitsipas
👏🏻#RolandGarros | @rolandgarros pic.twitter.com/QIQgB2zYkd
Tsitsipas' nerves were all too evident in the fourth set, the fifth seed unable to swing freely, while Zverev was now looking very at home on Court Philippe Chatrier.
But Tsitsipas managed to step up his aggression just when the match seemed to be getting away from him, and clinched victory after three hours and 37 minutes.
He is the youngest man to reach a Slam final since Andy Murray at the Australian Open 11 years ago and the youngest at Roland Garros since Nadal in 2008.