Stefanos Tsitsipas: 'Even at 6-3, 5-2 down, I knew I can beat Alexander Zverev'

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Stefanos Tsitsipas: 'Even at 6-3, 5-2 down, I knew I can beat Alexander Zverev'

Stefanos Tsitsipas was a man on the mission in 2018, reaching the top-30 ahead of Toronto following 25 ATP victories (he had only four until that season). The youngster played in the fourth round at Wimbledon and the semi-final in Washington, gathering momentum ahead of Canada Open, his seventh Masters 1000 event in a career.

In the second round, Stefanos faced world no. 8 Dominic Thiem and overpowered him with a single break in the opening set, earning a 6-3, 7-6 triumph following a reliable performance behind the initial shot. Things got even tougher for the young gun after that, facing a four-time winner Novak Djokovic in the battle for the quarter-final and notching a 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 victory, never losing serve and keeping the points on his racquet.

Taming his strokes nicely, Stefanos fired 42 winners and 34 unforced errors, outplaying Novak in the quickest exchanges and never losing serve to advance into the first Masters 1000 quarter-final. There, another top-10 rival stood on the other side of the net and Stefanos faced an ultimate challenge against the defending champion Alexander Zverev.

The German had a comfortable 6-3, 5-2 advantage when the Greek started to perform his comeback, prevailing 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 after saving two match points in the second set tie break to punch the semi-final ticket. Alexander defeated Stefanos a week earlier in Washington, being in a commanding position in Toronto but not finding the way to cross the finish line.

Zverev had his chances in the final set too, wasting five break chances at 1-1 before stealing the rival's serve in the fifth game to propel the German closer to victory.

In Toronto 2018, Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame a massive gap against Alexander Zverev.

It wasn't to be for Alexander though, losing serve in game six and wasting more break chances at 4-4, paying the price for that at 4-5 when he hit a double fault to give the serve and the match away.

Stefanos had more efficiency in the more extended rallies, hitting brave winners in that ninth game of the decider to save break chances and taking four straight points on the return in the next one to secure the place in the semis against another top-10 star Kevin Anderson.

The Greek became the youngest player with three top-10 victories at the same event since Rafael Nadal in Monte Carlo 2006, moving a step away from the first Masters 1000 final, still before the 20th birthday. "I kept believing I could bounce back against Alexander Zverev," Tsitsipas said. "I came back into the match and it seemed like nothing could stop me after that."