Marathon man Tsitsipas beats Zverev to reach first Grand Slam final

·3-min read

Stefanos Tsitsipas saw off the spirited challenge of Alex Zverev on Friday in a three and a half hour epic at the French Open to become the first player from Greece to reach a final at a Grand Slam tournament.

The 22-year-old headed into the semi-final on centre court boasting five wins over the German in their seven meetings.

But Zverev had reasons to be confident, having claimed the Madrid Open on clay last month.

Tsitsipas though got off to a flying start. He captured Zverev's opening service game to lead 2-0. And he maintained his slight advantage to take the opener after 37 minutes.

Despite the loss of the set, there were encouraging signs for Zverev who was starting to have the better of the longer exchanges.

Power

Zverev also upped his power and a vicious forehand in Tsitsipas's first game of the second set brought up a break point.

He claimed the game and surged into a 3-0 lead. But that was as good as it got in the second set.

Tsitsipas went on a roll taking six straight games to pocket the set and command of their eighth encounter.

Zverev got the break at the start of the third but did not celebrate wildly after the experience of the second.

He held for 3-1 after some sloppy play from Tsitsipas and survived a break point to reach 5-3. A seventh ace of the match helped him on his way to taking the set 6-4.

Comeback

At the start of the fourth, Zverev won the serve of the increasingly bewildered Tsitsipas who seemed a shadow of the enterprising player that had gone on a six-game streak in the second set.

He held on to his serve easily as Tsitsipas's groundstrokes lost their venom and accuracy.

Zverev levelled the match after two hours and 50 minutes.

And he got three break points at the start of the fifth courtesy of Tsitsipas's third double fault.

But the fifth seed erased them all. And he brandished his racquet when a Zverev service return went into the net on game point.

He got his own break point when Zverev tried to level at 2-2. And he claimed it to lead 3-1. A seventh ace took him to 4-1. The match was again his to lose.

Tension

Zverev kept in touch with an easy hold to make it 4-2. And Tsitsipas responded in kind to lead 5-2 and force Zverev to serve to stay in the tie.

He responded with a 224kmh first serve to win the first point. But he was soon two match points down.

He saved those but coughed up two other opportunities. He eventually salvaged the situation to hold and oblige Tsitsipas to serve for the match.

An eighth ace from the Greek settled the dispute after three hours and 37 minutes.

"My dream was to play here," said a tearful Tsitsipas. "But I never felt that I could. This win is the most important one of my career so far."

In Sunday's final, he will play either the defending champion Rafael Nadal or the top seed Novak Djokovic.

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