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Updates: Tsitsipas Forces Djokovic To Fourth Set

  • Posted: Oct 09, 2020

After failing to convert a match point, Novak Djokovic has been taken to a fourth set by Stefanos Tsitsipas in their Roland Garros semi-final. The Serbian leads Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-2, 5-7 on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

The World No. 1 appeared to be closing in on victory after breaking serve for a 5-4 lead in the third set with impressive use of the drop shot, but Tsitsipas increased his aggression to win three straight games and the third set.

Djokovic is attempting to reach his fifth Roland Garros final in his 10th semi-final at the event (4-5). The 33-year-old is chasing his second Roland Garros trophy as he attempts to become the first man in the Open Era — and only the third man in history — to win all four Grand Slam titles on multiple occasions.

Tsitsipas is attempting to recover from two sets down for only the second time in his career. The World No. 6 claimed his first comeback from that position in the first round against Jaume Munar. The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion is also bidding to become the youngest Grand Slam finalist since Juan Martin del Potro’s title run at the 2009 US Open.

Rafael Nadal is waiting for the winner of this match in Sunday’s final. The 12-time champion claimed a 6-3, 6-3, 7-6(0) victory against Diego Schwartzman to improve to 13-0 in Roland Garros semi-finals.

Despite not facing a break point in the opening two service games of any of his previous five matches at this event, Djokovic was forced to save four to hold serve in the opening game of the match. Surviving that challenge appeared to work in his favour, as he ripped a crosscourt forehand winner in the following game to establish a 2-0 lead.

Serving at 4-2, Djokovic showed great movement and balance to save break point at the net after a 23-shot rally. The 81-time tour-level titlist once again fired a crosscourt forehand winner to close that game.

After taking the first set, Djokovic chased down balls from behind the baseline to keep rallies alive and frustrate his opponent. Tsitsipas led 40/0 in service games at 2-2 and 2-4, but was broken on both occasions as Djokovic forced the Greek to play one extra shot. After extracting crucial errors, Djokovic achieved near perfection on serve at 5-2. The top seed served out the set with three aces and one unreturned serve.

In a third set with few break opportunities, Djokovic made the first move at 4-4. The 17-time Grand Slam champion used the drop shot to mix up play — as he has throughout the European clay swing — and outmanoeuvre his opponent. With Djokovic serving for the match, Tsitsipas closed the net well and played with power from the baseline to save match point and reach 5-5. After holding serve to 30, Tsitsipas continued to take his game to Djokovic and fired a forehand up the line to force the match to a fourth set.

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Updates: Nadal One Set From 13th Roland Garros Final

  • Posted: Oct 09, 2020

Rafael Nadal is one set away from reaching his 13th Roland Garros final. The Spaniard leads Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3 on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Attempting to gain revenge for his quarter-final loss to the Argentine at last month’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, Nadal has landed 24 winners and won 13 of 15 net points to move one set from his 99th victory in 101 matches at Stade Roland Garros.

The five-time year-end No. 1 is attempting to extend his unbeaten run in Roland Garros semi-finals to 13-0. Across his previous 12 encounters at this stage in Paris, Nadal has won 36 of the 39 sets he has contested.

Competing in a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time, Schwartzman is attempting to recover from two sets down for only the second time in his career. The 28-year-old is bidding to become only the seventh Argentinian man to reach a Grand Slam final.

The winner of Nadal and Schwartzman’s contest will face Novak Djokovic or Stefanos Tsitsipas for the trophy on Sunday. Djokovic enters the second semi-final with a 3-2 ATP Head2Head record against Tsitsipas.

The opening game of the match provided an early indicator to the battle ahead, with both men duelling from the baseline for 14 minutes as Nadal attempted to hold serve. The Spaniard was forced to save two break points, before ripping a crosscourt backhand winner to get on the scoreboard. Three consecutive breaks followed, as Nadal established a 3-1 lead by using his forehand down the line and moving to the net to finish points. The 12-time champion faced regular pressure on serve, but closed the set after 64 minutes when Schwartzman fired a backhand into the net.

Nadal extended his advantage early in the second set, driving his groundstrokes into Schwartzman’s forehand corner to earn break point. The 59-time clay titlist broke through when Schwartzman mis-timed an attempted backhand up the line. Nadal also began to find rhythm on his serve, improving his first-serve points won from 63 per cent in the opening set to 81 per cent. Nadal clinched a two-set advantage by breaking serve for the fourth time. The Manacor native drove a forehand up the line on set point, which Schwartzman failed to control on his forehand.

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Preview: Tsitsipas Chasing ‘Something Spectacular’ Against Djokovic

  • Posted: Oct 09, 2020

When Stefanos Tsitsipas walks onto Court Philippe-Chatrier for his first Roland Garros semi-final, the World No. 6 will be attempting to make the latest step in his rise to prominence on the ATP Tour.

Two years ago, the Greek announced his arrival with his first trophy in Stockholm and a title run at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. Tsitsipas built on his 2018 campaign by starting the 2019 season with a first major semi-final appearance at the Australian Open and ended the year by lifting the biggest title of his career at the Nitto ATP Finals. On Friday, he will attempt to achieve another milestone moment in his career by reaching his maiden Grand Slam final.

“It’s a dream, of course… I [have] expected since a young age to potentially triumph at these Grand Slams. I’m happy that I’m able to be in a position where I am today. It’s very, very satisfying. I think I can learn from the previous [major semi-final in Australia]. I’m chasing something spectacular.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Tsitsipas’ transformation from a #NextGenATP sensation to one of the best players on the ATP Tour has been one of the stories of the past three years. Since the start of the 2018 ATP Tour season, the Greek has reached 12 finals (5-7) and earned five wins against the Big Three of Novak Djokovic (2), Rafael Nadal (1) and Roger Federer (2). Tsitsipas will attempt to improve both those statistics in his next match.

“I would like to tell you that I’m not a Next Gen player any more,” said Tsitsipas, after a reporter mistakenly labelled him as a #NextGenATP player. “I’m a proper adult… The Big Three have been there for a long time. I don’t feel like it’s going to be the same in five, six years’ time.”

In peak form, Tsitsipas will meet World No. 1 Djokovic for a final spot. The 22-year-old arrived in Paris later than most of his rivals, having contested the Hamburg European Open final on the same day the tournament began at Stade Roland Garros. After dropping the opening two sets in his first-round match against Jaume Munar, the six-time ATP Tour titlist has claimed four straight-sets wins on the Parisian terre battue.

“[Stefanos] is one of the best players in the world,” said Djokovic. “[He is] deservedly where he is in [the] FedEx ATP Rankings. He’s been playing the tennis of his life really in the past 12 months, winning [the] Nitto ATP Finals, just being very consistent on all surfaces with his results.”

Aiming to become the youngest Grand Slam finalist since Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 US Open, Tsitsipas has already proven he is capable of beating Djokovic. The Athens native owns two victories from five ATP Head2Head encounters against the 2016 champion, winning three-set battles at the 2018 Rogers Cup and last year’s Rolex Shanghai Masters.

“[Stefanos] has an all-around game. He’s a big guy, big serve,” said Djokovic. “He has weapons, obviously serve and forehand, his backhand. He produces a lot of spin. He comes into the net. He can play aggressively. He can defend well because he moves well. He’s really a complete, all-around player. I think he’s one of the hardest-working guys out there.”

Djokovic, Tsitsipas, Schwartzman, Nadal

While Tsitsipas is attempting to break new ground, Djokovic is attempting to repeat past successes and improve his position in the record books. The Serbian is just two wins away from becoming the first man in the Open Era — and the third man in history — to lift each of the four Grand Slam titles on multiple occasions. If he captures his 18th Grand Slam crown in Paris, he will also narrow the gap on 20-time major champion Federer and 19-time Grand Slam titlist Nadal at the top of the major trophies leaderboard.

Djokovic is aware of the challenge that lies ahead. If he is to reach his fifth final at the clay-court major championship (1-3), he will have to overcome one of the best young talents on the ATP Tour.

“I expect a really tough, tough match, tough challenge for both of us,” said Djokovic. “Semi-finals of [a] Grand Slam, this is what you expect. You expect to play a Top 5, Top 10 player. This is what I get. I’m hopefully going to be able to feel my best and play my best.”

Novak Djokovic

At this stage, Djokovic has risen to the occasion with astonishing consistency in recent years. Since the start of the 2015 ATP Tour season, the five-time year-end World No. 1 has won 12 of his 13 Grand Slam semi-finals.

There is still a glimmer of hope for Tsitsipas to take from that statistic. The only Grand Slam semi-final loss Djokovic has endured since 2015 came in his most recent last-four encounter at this event. Last year, across two days, Dominic Thiem claimed a memorable five set win against Djokovic to reach his second straight final in the French capital.

If Tsitsipas is to join Thiem by ending Djokovic’s bid in Paris at the same stage this year, he knows he will have to stick to his game. His tactics have worked in the past and it they have been working for him throughout this event.

“I have to play the way I have to play… I’m approaching that match with the same intensity and the same focus that I’ve been doing the past few matches,” said Tsitsipas.

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