Stefanos Tsitsipas continues his fine play at the Nitto ATP Finals, defeating Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4 in the first of two semifinals to book his spot in Sunday's championship match against either Dominic Thiem or Alexander Zverev.
The 21-year old is the first man from Greece to participate at the year-end showpiece and will look to cap off a sensational year with his biggest title to date after defeating the six-time ATP Finals champion for a second time this year.
Brilliant Tsitsipas takes first set in impressive fashion
After rallying from 30-0 down, Federer had a break point after a beautifully angled backhand slice. Tsitsipas escaped after the Swiss flew a forehand long and he eventually held. The missed chance would prove to be costly as Federer was broken after missing a pair of easy overheads and watched as Tsitsipas bulleted a forehand down the line for a winner.
The Greek saw a 40-15 lead evaporate as Federer rallied to deuce only to see the world number five fire off another forehand winner followed by a missed backhand on his way to a hold and a 4-1 advantage. Federer had a golden opportunity to retrieve the break, holding a 0-40 lead on the Tsitsipas serve, the Greek using some strong serving to dig out of the deficit to move a game away from the opening set.
Serving for the set, the ninth game was easily the best of the week. A 22-point, 13 minute classic that saw Tsitsipas fall behind 0-30 after a pair of backhand errors. Federer earned a break point with some wonderfully angled forehands. Saving that, the Greek watched as the Swiss nailed a pair of brilliant returns sandwiched between a double fault to save three set points.
The world number five then misfired on a backhand to give Federer a second break point, but the six-time ATP Finals champion then missed his own backhand to once again bring up deuce. On they went, an ace to bring up set point number four, a searing backhand saving it. Two more set points gone, but on the seventh, a huge serve closed out the epic game for Tsitsipas.
Each man held routinely to open the second set before Federer played his worst service game of the week. Three routine misses off of the ground set up 0-40 for Tsitsipas and, watching the Swiss fire a forehand into the net, the Greek was a set and a break up, Federer's task looking more and more difficult by the moment.
Out of nowhere, the world number three had a 0-40 lead on Tsitsipas' serve, but more horrible errors off the ground saw those opportunities go begging. After fighting off a game point, Federer broke out a picturesque drop shot to bring up his ninth break point of the match and he finally took it when the 21-year old hit a forehand miles wide.
The Greek showed his resolve, earning a break point when airmailed a forehand only to see the Swiss fight him off with some sublime winners. A massive backhand brought up a second break point and this time Tsitsipas made no mistake, crushing a forehand down the line for a winner to go ahead 3-2.
Tsitsipas resumed holding with ease and Federer's level was clearly not the same as it was in his sterling victory over Novak Djokovic on Thursday. Eight winners and 11 unforced errors through seven games told the story, the Greek now a game away from another memorable victory over the Swiss at 5-3.
Federer would make Tsitsipas earn it after clinching a hold with a big serve down the t. Serving for the match at 5-4, the 21-year old displayed some nerves, a backhand shanked badly bringing up two more break chances for the Swiss. After Federer got a forehand all wrong on the first break point, Tsitsipas used his big serve to close out the victory and reach the final.