Stefanos Tsitsipas defeats Alexander Zverev to reach the final of the French Open.


Stefanos Tsitsipas defeats Alexander Zverev to reach the final of the French Open.

Stefanos Tsitsipas struggled at times but fought back to beat Alexander Zverev in five sets and advance to his first grand slam final.

The Greek, who has won more matches than any other player in 2021, has looked like a man on a mission at Roland Garros for the past fortnight, and he looked to be on his way to victory when he took a two-set lead.

But Zverev seized the momentum and fully reversed the tables, winning the third and fourth sets to threaten a repeat of last year’s US Open semi-final, when he upset Pablo Carreno Busta after coming back from two sets down.

Tsitsipas fell down 0-40 in the deciding set’s first game, but he dug deep to hold, and that served as the fuel for a comeback and a 6-3 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3 win.

At 5-2 in the fifth, Zverev saved four match opportunities, three with massive serves and one with the most daring of drop drops, but Tsitsipas held his nerve wonderfully to serve it out, his arms raised in glee and relief.

“All I can think of is my roots, where I come from outside of Athens,” the 22-year-old, who is the first Greek player to reach a grand slam final, said through tears as the stadium erupted in applause. It had always been a dream of mine to perform here. My ambition was to one day compete on the grand stage of the French Open.

“It was terrifying because it was so intense. The first game of the fifth set, I believe, was the most critical game of the set. I returned, and I managed to stay alive. I was surrounded by people. They were encouraging me and providing me with enthusiasm.

“There was still a glimmer of optimism in my mind. There were still options for me to fight back and do something, I believed. Your sole task is to fight, and that’s exactly what I did.

“It was extremely challenging and emotionally draining. I’ve had a lot of emotional breakdowns, but this victory means a lot to me. This victory is the most significant in my career thus far.”

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