French Open 2021: Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Daniil Medvedev & faces Alexander Zverev

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Tsitsipas has previously contested three Grand Slam semifinals – at the Australian Open 2019 and 2021 and Roland Garros last year – and lost them all

Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas showed his superior clay court quality against Russian rival Daniil Medvedev and reached the semi-finals of the French Open.

Medvedev opted for a forearm serve on match point – which Tsitsipas called “a very millennial shot” after putting it down to seal a 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 win.

It ended Medvedev’s surprisingly deep run on clay and put Tsitsipas in a third Grand Slam semi-final in a row.

The 22-year-old Tsitsipas will meet the German sixth seeded Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.

Zverev moved up 6: 4, 6: 1 6: 1 against the Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who later claimed to have suffered a back injury, for the first time among the last four.

Like Tsitsipas, Zverev also wants to win his first Grand Slam by taking the title in Paris on Sunday.

“It’s very nice to be in the semi-finals, but just being there doesn’t satisfy me,” said the 24-year-old Zverev.

“I’m playing pretty well and I hope to be able to play the same – and even better – in the semi-finals.”

Tsitsipas keeps a cool head for the rare win over Medvedev

After Zverev’s victory, attention quickly turned to the eagerly awaited evening game between Tsitsipas and Medvedev, whose opposing personalities on and off the pitch have contributed to a burgeoning rivalry.

A fast-paced match full of beautiful shots, energetic rallies and swing movements – even before that sensational moment that enabled Tsitsipas to claim victory – ensured that the two delivered a convincing fight.

Runner-up Medvedev, 25, had won six of his seven previous games, but never felt as comfortable on the surface as his opponent.

Tsitsipas has won three of his seven ATP titles on the red dirt, including Monte Carlo and Lyon this year, while Medvedev won a game at Roland Garros just this year.

The Greek seemed keen to get off to a quick start and smothered Medvedev in an opening set that he won with minimal effort.

Another break at the beginning of the second set apparently brought Tsitsipas in command, just for the Russian, who – almost out of nowhere – shifted the momentum back to level and then hit two setpoints at 5-4.

Medvedev looked at a second serve on the first but hit a weak backhand into the net and then pushed a forehand far away when the chances were lost.

After Tsitsipas dominated the tiebreak by two sets, Medvedev rebounded in the third by taking a 3-2 lead before the Greek hit back again.

Frustration erupted when Medvedev’s sentence slipped, telling the referee at 5-4, “If I lose the game, it’s your fault” after the Russian argued over a flashing scoreboard that the Russian said Opinion was that he should have got another first to serve.

But he could only blame himself when he lost a 40-0 lead on serve in the last game and secured the victory for the Greek with a pass backhand after his wrongly assessed forearm serve and volley.

“That was the most important game in the game. I tried to stay mentally there, mentally conserved. I didn’t give up. I could have easily given up and thought about the tiebreaker, but I stayed there,” said Tsitsipas, who was in the tournament lost just one sentence.

“I’m glad I made it through.

How Medvedev’s “tactics” backfired on the last point

Medvedev said his decision to go for the forearm cuff was not a “mistake” but something he “dared”.

He had approached the net to end the point with a volley, but Tsitsipas read it too quickly and shot past him.

“I’ve been thinking about it all through the game, maybe I could do it on the important point because I think he was way back in the field, so it can always work,” said the Russian.

“But I hadn’t seen the opportunity before, and on this one I felt like he was kind of on top of me so I thought surprising him would be a good choice.

“But well, it didn’t work out at all. He had an easy ball to finish. He did it. But like I said, it was tactical.”

“Maybe next time I won’t do it when I know he’s read [it]. “

Zverev is still looking for improvement after a one-sided victory

At 24 years and 54 days, Zverev wants to become the youngest Grand Slam master in men’s singles since Novak Djokovic won the Wimbledon title in 2011

Zverev has long been touted as the future Grand Slam champion and came closest to this goal when he lost to Dominic Thiem after two sets in the 2020 US Open final.

Since Tsitsipas was able to prevent him from reaching a second big final, and the prospect of Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal in the highlight on Sunday, the German still has a tricky way ahead of him.

These opponents are likely to cause more problems than the 46th placed Davidovich Fokina, who delivered a faulty performance.

Afterwards, the 22-year-old told Spanish journalists that he was unable to put on socks on the morning of the game due to his back injury.

Neither of them could be fluent in a poor quality opening movement, and both had difficulty serving.

The pair landed less than 45% of their first serves and shared seven breaks, with the set tipping in Zverev’s favor when their opponent humbly surrendered in game 10.

After swapping handles in the first two games, Zverev won the next seven games to gain a two-set lead and take a break in the third.

The Spaniard’s confidence, who seemed to be struggling physically and mentally, had long waned as Zverev continued to be ruthless.

Heavy and precise punches from the back of the court allowed him to win the last four games and achieve a perfect backhand winner who took the win in an hour and 36 minutes.

“After the first set I think that my baseline game has improved a lot and I’ve started to dominate the points more,” said Zverev.

“I didn’t play that well in the beginning. I think I can play a lot better.”

Alejandro Davidovich FokinaDavidovich Fokina only won five games when he lost to Zverev at the 2020 US OpenAll about the BBC iPlayer bannerAround the BBC iPlayer footer