Mixed feelings for Tsitsipas following five-set loss

 - Chris Oddo

The Greek showed his fighting spirit during an impressive Roland-Garros fortnight

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Roland Garros 2020, semi-final© Philippe Montigny/FFT

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.

“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.” 

Novak Djokovic et Stefanos Tsitsipas© Philippe Montigny / FFT

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.”