PARIS – Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first Greek player to reach a Grand Slam final on Friday when he defeated Germany’s Alexander Zverev in a bruising five-setter at the French Open.
Fifth-seeded Tsitsipas won 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 and will face either 13-time champion Rafael Nadal or world number one Novak Djokovic in the championship match.
However, the 22-year-old will have his work cut out on Sunday — he is 2-7 against Nadal and 2-5 playing Djokovic.
“All I can think of is my roots, a small place outside Athens where I dreamed to play on the big stage at the French Open,” said a tearful Tsitsipas on making his first final at the majors, secured on a fifth match point.
The rock-solid Greek didn’t give up a single break point although in an indication of the fine margins, Tsitsipas only hit one winner.
Zverev, bidding to become the first German man since Michael Stich in 1996 to reach the final in Paris, raced into a 3-0 lead in the second set.
However, Tsitsipas’ greater composure saw him rack up six consecutive games to move two sets ahead.
In a 10-minute eighth game, Zverev saved four match points, the second of which with a drop shot, the third with an ace.
However, Tsitsipas held his nerve and claimed victory after over three and a half hours on court with his eighth ace of the match.