STEFANOS TSITSIPAS REACHES MONTE CARLO SEMI-FINAL AFTER A HEROIC THREE-SET WIN OVER DIEGO SCHWARTZMAN.
Stefanos Tsitsipas looked like he had crumbled mentally after going 4-0 down in the third set decider, having already been in a position where he was 6-2 5-2 up in the match. However, he showed great grit and determination to fight back and reach the Monte Carlo semi-finals for the second year in a row to set up a showdown with Alexander Zverev on Saturday.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is into the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters after coming from 4-0 down in the third set to produce a thrilling 6-2 6-7(3) 6-4 victory over Diego Schwartzman.
It looked like the defending Monte Carlo champion was about to secure his place in the final four in the second set, but Schwartzman showed great resolve to battle back from a set and 5-2 down to force a decider.
The match appeared to be going the way of Schwartzman who took a 4-0 lead in the third set, but Tsitsipas won six games in a row to claim a superb victory in two hours and 45 minutes.
Tsitsipas will play Alexander Zverev in Saturday’s semi-final of the Masters tournament which has seen all four quarter-finals go to a deciding set this year.
“I think I let go,” Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview afterwards.
“There was a moment in the match where I felt what I was trying to do out on the court wasn’t working. He seemed to have a massive lead and momentum in what he was trying to do.
“I tried to stay as long as possible on court and it worked out very well. I wasn’t expecting much at that point, being a double break down, but it almost helped me to loosen up a bit and focus on shot after shot and not too much on what I’m trying to achieve straight away.
“It was extremely close. I was close serving out in the second set. That was the moment I thought I had a big chance of closing it out. But Diego is Diego and I had to be Stefanos. It was kind of payback I would say.”
The pair had to wait for the conclusion of Zverev’s triumph in a three-hour epic against Jannik Sinner earlier in the day, but the delay could not stop Tsitsipas from getting off to a fast start under the lights.
Schwartzman, on the other hand, was sluggish and he went a break down in his opening service game with an unsuccessful backhand dropshot which hit the net.
Schwartzman struggled to find a way to break down his Greek opponent as Tsitsipas moved into a 4-0 lead with a backhand winner at the net.
The Argentine pulled a break back but Tsitsipas took the opening set in 44 minutes.
The second set followed a similar pattern as Schwartzman failed to make any inroads on the Tsitsipas serve. He went a break down in the fourth game when Schwartzman fluffed a reverse forehand.
It looked as though Tsitsipas would hold on to his break lead and serve out the match, but the nerves crept in and Schwartzman broke back with four unanswered points as the world No.5 double faulted at 0-40 down.
The increasingly vocal crowd chanted “Diego” at the changeover which drew a smile from the No. 12 seed before he won his third game in a row to level the set.
Despite two double faults on his serve, Schwartzman recovered to force a tie-break. Tsitsipas double faulted to hand Schwartzman a 3-1 lead and the unforced errors continued.
Schwartzman forced a deciding set on his third set point and the frustration on Tsitsipas’ face was clear for all to see.
Tsitsipas appeared to mentally fold early in the third set as he sent a looping forehand into the net to go 2-0 down. He went down a double break when attempting a forehand dropshot into the tramlines and was very unhappy with himself.
But it did not take too long for Tsitsipas to regain his composure and he clawed back the double break to put the pair level on serve.
The crowd was now on the side of Tsitsipas and he was
able to win his fifth game in a row to move to within a game of the semi-finals.
Tsitsipas pulled of the shot of the match, diving onto the red dirt to hit a backhand volley at the net which got him into match point position. He could not convert it but he did win it on his second after a tense rally.