Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece returns the ball to Germany's Alexander Zverev during their semifinal ... [+] match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Friday, June 11, 2021 in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)ASSOCIATED PRESS
Stefanos Tsitsipas appeared to be cruising toward a relatively easy win in the French Open semifinals but then Sascha Zverev took charge and made it more complicated.
No. 6 Zverev pushed No. 5 Tsitsipas to the distance in a five-set classic but the 22-year-old Greek sensation ultimately prevailed, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 in 3 hours, 36 minutes, to advance to his first Grand Slam final and become the first Greek player, male or female, to reach a major singles final.
His reward will be a date with either world No. 1. Novak Djokovic or 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s final. Djokovic has 18 major titles, while Nadal is seeking a record-breaking 21st.
Along with Nadal, Tsitsipas has been the hottest player on clay in 2021. In April, he won his first Masters 1000 title at the Monte-Carlo Masters, after defeating Aslan Karatsev, Cristian Garín, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Dan Evans and Andrey Rublev to become the first Greek player to win a Masters 1000 title.
He is now through to his first major final after making two semifinal appearances at the Australian Open (2019, ‘21) and one at last year’s French Open.
After Zverev played more aggressive tennis to win the third and fourth sets, he played a relatively loose game in the fourth game of the fifth and was broken as Tsitsipas took a 3-1 lead.
With the German serving at 2-5 in the fifth set, he got down 15-40 to give the Greek two match points. He saved both, hitting a backhand drop shot for a winner on the second match point.
Zverev fought of four match points and held after a 9-minute, 40-second game to close within 3-5.
Tsitsipas finally closed it out on his serve with an ace wide before holding up his hands and then embracing Zverev at the net.
Tsitsipas will now have a full day’s rest before getting a shot at his first major title. All he will have to do now is beat one of the greatest players of all time to do it.