The 22-year-old Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas has become one of the world's finest players in the last couple of years, winning a couple of notable titles and standing on a path towards the ATP throne. Stefanos won the ATP Finals in 2019 and his first Masters 1000 title last week in Monte Carlo, adding two Major semi-finals by his name and feeling hungry for more in the years to come.
Stefanos would love to win the Australian Open one day in front of so many Greek fans down under, and also to steal the Roland Garros crown from Rafael Nadal, saying that Rafa has won it '150 times.' Nadal and Tsitsipas will compete in Sunday's Barcelona Open final, their second in three years at this event, and the Greek will try to beat the king of clay and continue his marvelous streak.
Of course, Nadal doesn't have 150 Roland Garros titles, but he stands on the proud 13, securing the latest last October in grand style, beating all seven rivals in straight sets. The Spaniard suffered only eight breaks in seven encounters in the French capital, delivering incredible numbers on both serve and return to leave all the rivals behind and defend the crown.
In the opening four rounds, Rafa toppled Egor Gerasimov, Mackenzie McDonald, Stefano Travaglia and Sebastian Korda without breaking a sweat, getting broken once and dropping 23 games - ten against Gerasimov in the opening match - in 12 sets to sail into the quarters.
Nadal needed that accumulated energy to pass the young Italian Jannik Sinner, who broke Rafa twice and served for the opening set at 6-5.
Stefanos Tsitsipas wants to end Rafael Nadal's Roland Garros reign.
The 12-time Roland Garros champion broke back in the last moment and won the tie break, prevailing in the second and shifting into a higher gear in the third to advance into the semis.
Unlike in Rome a few weeks earlier, Diego Schwartzman stood no chance in Paris, with Rafa taking the opening two sets 6-3 before wasting the lead in the third for some drama. Schwartzman gained momentum in the second part of the set to reach a tie break that Nadal clinched 7-0 to move over the top in style.
The most formidable obstacle stood between Rafael Nadal and the title, with world no. 1 Novak Djokovic awaiting on the other side of the net in the title clash, seeking the second Parisian trophy. Like those before him, Novak had nothing to offer against mighty Rafa, who produced a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 triumph in two hours and 41 minutes for the fourth Major crown without losing a set!
Nadal landed 31 winners and 14 unforced errors, performed strongly from both wings and took 51% of the return points to control the scoreboard and march over the top. Novak sprayed 52 unforced errors, seeking his A-game for over two hours and suffering a massive loss despite a solid effort in the last set.
Rafa gave serve away once, keeping Novak's return in the locker room and destroying him in the shortest rallies up to four strokes to march towards the victory and the 20th Major trophy. "I have always liked playing in Australia because there are a lot of Greeks in the stands.
I feel their support and love. At Roland Garros, for example, I feel like I want to take the trophy that Nadal has lifted 150 times. Wimbledon is synonymous with prestige. I think it is the biggest tournament in our sport," Stefanos Tsitsipas said.