In the end Stefanos Tsitsipas didn’t have enough energy to complete what would have been a dream victory over Novak Djokovic in Friday’s second men’s singles semi-final in Paris, but the devastating defeat will not force the Greek to hang his head for long.
Mixed feelings for Tsitsipas following five-set loss
The Greek showed his fighting spirit during an impressive Roland-Garros fortnight
“I feel, I can say, happy and at the same time sad,” Tsitsipas said, minutes after his 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1 loss to Djokovic. “Could have been a better result for me today. Novak showed once again what an incredible athlete [he is], and his ability on the courts. It was difficult, for sure, playing him. I think one of the most difficult opponents I've faced in my entire life. I have huge respect for that.”
Playing in his second career Grand Slam semi-final, Tsitsipas mounted an improbable rally to push the world No.1 to a fifth set on Court Philippe-Chatrier. After saving a match point at 4-5 in the third he went on to save 10 of 11 break points in a thrilling fourth set to force a decider.
Despite the loss, and a leg injury that hampered him down the stretch, Tsitsipas is seeing a lot of positives in his performance.
“There are many things that I can take,” he said. “I had an amazing comeback.”
Tsitsipas does have one regret: he wishes he could have started the match differently. The Greek knows that falling to a two-set deficit against a player of Djokovic’s pedigree is a recipe for disaster. He said he made tactical changes to start the match, and he feels he should have just stuck with his original game plan.
“I wish I could have figured out certain things earlier,” said the 22-year-old. “I felt like it was a total demolition; the fact that I tried those things in practice and tried to implement them in the match. It was something new. I wish I wouldn't have tried these things and tried to stay to my ordinary and basic way of feeling the ball and also trying to dictate the game.”
Tsitsipas said he reversed his tactics and started playing with more aggression in the third set, and the decision helped him turn the match around.
“I think I played great tennis after that, except the fifth set, which I believe my body was not ready,” he said. “Physically I wasn't really present.”
Tsitsipas says he is also taking comfort in the fact that he is a vastly improved player from the last time he reached a Grand Slam semi-final in 2019, at the Australian Open. In that match, he won only six games and saw only a single break point in a loss to Rafael Nadal.
“I think back at the Australian Open I was still a kid, and now I'm turning more into an adult,” he said. “My thinking has changed. I've matured. I've been through a lot of things. I have grown from the people around me, my relationships, people in general. They have contributed a lot to that.
“I have, of course, more experience in my pocket than before. I've played matches. I've experienced different things. I know when something is good or not, and I can, I think, dictate that earlier. So a lot of experience, a lot of physical improvement, I think.”