Stefanos Tsitsipas has powered into the semifinals of the Nitto ATP Finals with a thorough 6-3, 6-2 victory over defending champion Alexander Zverev at the O2 Arena in London. The 21-year old is the first Greek to reach the last four of the season-ending showpiece.
Zverev was coming off of a dominating win over world number one Rafael Nadal in his opening group stage match, but had no answers against Tsitsipas, who beat him for the fourth time in five career meetings. The German won just five of 18 points behind his second serve and was broken three times.
Tsitsipas thrashes defending champion to seal semifinal berth in style
Tsitsipas was pushed on serve in the opening game of the match at 30-30 before winning the next two points to hold and he fashioned a half-chance in the fourth game, getting to deuce only to see Zverev escape the danger and level the set at 2-2.
The Greek needed to save a break point in the fifth game and was able to do so to maintain his edge at 3-2. Two games later, Zverev was in a spot of bother after waywardly misjudging Tsitsipas' low return at his feet off of a serve and volley at 15-40 to hand the world number six a 5-3 lead.
Tsitsipas flew through his next service game to close out the set to 15 after the German flew a lob long and carried the momentum into set number two, holding four break points on Zverev's opening service game. After messing up the first three, the Greek combined superb backhands to sneak in to net and break at the fourth time of asking.
He had more chances ahead 3-1, but sent a reasonably makeable shot out of play. Given another chance, he took it with a perfectly timed attack, capped off by a backhand volley to assume an unwavering 4-1 lead. He held to love for a 5-1 advantage and closed out the match on serve two games later with an ace.
Zverev was caught in a bit of a row after the match after being seen reaching into his bag between sets and swiping his finger at something. Upon speculation that it was a phone, the defending champion immediately dismissed those claims.
"I don't know what they saw, but it was definitely not a phone. My phone was in the locker room. I always leave it there. I mean, [it could have been] a water bottle? Empty water bottle?"
He later paid tribute to his opponent, stating that "he played a fantastic match, I thought. I played really bad. At this level, this is how it goes when somebody plays great and you don't play your best. It can go this way, especially against him who I think this surface, these conditions fit him quite well."