PARIS (Reuters) – Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the second Grand Slam semi-final of his career on Wednesday, raising his game after a slow start to defeat Russian Andrey Rublev 7-5 6-2 6-3 at the French Open.
Before the quarter-final on Court Philippe Chatrier, the 13th-seeded Rublev had won both previous tour-level meetings against fellow 22-year-old Tsitsipas with their last encounter less than two weeks ago in the final in Hamburg.
The Russian looked set to keep his record intact as he served for the first set at 5-4 but Tsitsipas, who also reached the semi-finals at last year’s Australian Open, fought back to level the set and then broke Rublev’s serve to take the opener.
From 3-5 down in the first set, Tsitsipas won five straight games and a frustrated Rublev seemed to have run out of ideas against his inspired opponent.
Asked during his on-court interview what he changed in his game to suddenly shift gears, Tsitsipas said after a long silence: “If I tell you it won’t be a secret anymore.
“I have been feeling really comfortable playing on this court. Despite not having a good start and being a break down, I remembered what a big fighter I am. It’s also about fighting and trying to find solutions in big moments.
“I managed to put my brain into work and find solutions to difficult tasks that I had to complete.”
The 2019 ATP Finals winner started finding sharp angles while generating more power in his groundstrokes. He started approaching the net more often with success and also began playing sublime passing shots.
Rublev did not find a way back into the match as Tsitsipas broke his serve three more times in the next two sets.
“Playing here in Paris has always been joyful. I am always looking forward to coming here and playing my best tennis,” the Greek said.
“Roland Garros has been a tournament I have been watching since a very young age and I always dreamt of playing the sport and especially on (Court) Philippe Chatrier. It is a dream come true.”
A forehand volley for his 35th winner completed the win for the Greek on his second match point and set up a meeting against either world number one Novak Djokovic of Serbia or Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Toby Davis)