At the beginning of 2019, the reigning ATP Next Gen Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas stunned the tennis world after beating Roger Federer in Melbourne. Stefanos advanced to his first Major semi-final at the Australian Open, winning the ATP Finals and competing in the Masters 1000 final before embracing another deep Major run in Paris in the last ten days.
Stefanos lost a tight final in Hamburg to Andrey Rublev the previous weekend, trailing two sets to love against Jaume Munar in the first round at Roland Garros before raising his level to claim 15 straight sets and race into the second Major semi-final.
Praising the young Greek, John McEnroe said we have all been expecting great results from him following that triumph over Roger in Melbourne. The American believes the Greek is a Major contender, having to throw everything he has on Novak Djokovic in the next round to remain on the title course in Paris.
In the re-match of that Hamburg final, Tsitsipas took down Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 in an hour and 55 minutes, becoming the youngest Roland Garros semi-finalist since Juan Martin del Potro in 2009. Trailing 5-3 in the opener, Stefanos rattled off 16 of the last 21 games, stealing the opener and dominating sets two and three to move over the top and set the semi-final clash against Novak Djokovic.
The Greek lost only 23 points behind the initial shot, suffering one break earlier in the opening set and never looking back in his games, mounting the pressure on the other side of the court. Tsitsipas fired 35 winners and 17 unforced errors, leaving Rublev on a solid 25-23 ratio that wasn't enough at least for a set after suffering five breaks from eight chances offered to the younger opponent.
The Russian served for the opening set at 5-4, getting broken and fading from the court in the rest of the clash, unable to match the rival's pace and fight for the semi-final spot.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is through to his first Roland Garros semi-final.
"You have got to love the way Stefanos Tsitsipas plays; he can do anything on the court.
Both Rublev and Tsitsipas took a risk by playing the finals in Hamburg on the first day of the French Open, and they were both two sets to love down in the first round in Paris. Rublev was lucky to get out of that, and the effort he put in just caught up with him.
The Russian is usually a great fighter, so that's the part that disappoints me. We have been waiting for bigger and better things from Tsitsipas since he beat Federer in Australia; he's going to win a Major real soon.
Stefanos is a big guy; he moves pretty well and can attack better than Pablo Carreno Busta. Stefanos has got to take it to Djokovic, not have the court taken from him and move forward when he has the chance, which is tough, especially in these low, cold conditions," John McEnroe said.