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, admitting the experience had left him exhausted but proud.
Fifth-seeded Tsitsipas won 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 and will now play world number one Novak Djokovic in the championship match.
“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,” a tearful Tsitsipas said on making his first final at the majors.
“It was nerve-wracking, so intense, I stayed alive. I went out there and fought. This win means a lot, it’s the most important one of my career so far.”
Tsitsipas had led by two sets before Zverev levelled up the match to force a decider. This resulted in the Greek, who has reached the semi-finals twice at the Australian Open (2019, 2021), refocusing again, as he saved three break points from 0/40 at the start of the fifth. Tsitsipas believed this was a crucial moment in the clash.
“I was trying to be in a good relationship with myself and get encouraged and push forward for something good to happen. I knew I was not done at that point, I had more to give. I was playing much better. All I had to do was put in the concentration,” Tsitsipas said.
“I’m someone who fights. I was not willing to give up yet. I think I did few things right that worked in my favour. I was still alive. I was still able to come back to the match. It was a breath of fresh air, that first game. I felt revitalized,” Tsitsipas admitted.
The 22-year-old has now recorded a Tour-leading 39 wins this year and is excited to be in Sunday’s final at a tournament which means a great deal to him.
“I’m looking forward to leaving my entire body on the court in the final… I’m looking forward to bring my game to kind of challenge myself to step it up.”