The first of the French Open semi-finals was confirmed with Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas claiming the places in what will be their first meeting on Friday at grand slam level.
I feel privileged that I’m in that position, and I feel obviously I’ve put in a lot of daily hard work and has been a key element of me being here. But you know, my ego tells me I want more Stefanos Tsitsipas
Both dismissed their quarter-final opponents in straight sets. Zverev the sixth seed from Germany playing late in the afternoon following two long women’s matches, dispatched comfortably, after 96-minutes, Spain’s unseeded Alejandro Davidovich-Fokina 6-4 6-1 6-1 while Tsitsipas, the fifth seed from Greece playing in the soulless evening slot, required two-hours and 19-minutes to overcome a strong challenge from the second seed, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, 6-3 7-6(5) 7-5.
“Obviously it’s very nice to be in the semi-final but just being here doesn’t satisfy me,” Zverev, who had the good fortune of playing in front of a 1,000 Covid restricted crowd, told the spectators.
“I know I’m playing pretty okay, and I hope I can continue playing the same way, maybe even better in the semi-finals and then we’ll see in two days’ time what it holds for me.”
The first set was well contested with Zverev finally claiming it after a series of breaks by both players. Having gained the advantage, Zverev then dismantled his opponent by claiming the next 12 of the next 14 games to continue his bid of at least replicating his first final appearance at a grand slam last year in New York.
“After the first set, my baseline game improved a lot and I started to dominate the points,” said Zverev. “At the beginning, I don’t think I played that well. He has improved a lot over the past 18 months and has climbed up the rankings. I think I will play him a lot in the future.”
And so to the highlight of the day, the evening clash — without fans for the last time this fortnight — between two players who are rumoured not to like each other! Whether it was a grudge match or not, is irrelevant as the pair were meeting for an eighth time with Medvedev leading 6-1.
However, it was their first clash on clay and while the Russian was delighted at making the last eight having never won a match in his four previous appearances at Roland Garros, the favourite to go through was always the Greek for his fourth Grand Slam semi-final, his third on the trot and his second in Paris.
And so it proved but he was pushed all the way
“I feel privileged that I’m in that position, and I feel obviously I’ve put in a lot of daily hard work and has been a key element of me being here,” Tsitsipas in his post-match interview. “But you know, my ego tells me I want more.”
The Greek broke early and his groundstrokes, movement and clay court expertise was on display from the start. Medvedev final got himself into the match in the third when he broke Tsitsipas to lead 3-2 and 4-2 with lengthy rallies starting to go his way.
Unfortunately for the Russian, ‘El Greco’ was able to raise his own game and stormed back winning five of the last six games to progress into the last four, blasting the weak underarm serve which the world number two produced on match point!
“I was even kind of surprised the first set,” Medvedev said of how well Tsitsipas played in the opener.
“That’s why it went so easy on his side because I didn’t expect such great level from him, especially (as) I felt like I played good guys like Bublik, Garin, Tommy Paul actually, that played good from baseline, and I felt that I was on top of them in the rallies so I felt I could continue doing this today like on the hard courts.
“It was not the case so I had to change.”