MADRID: 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas caused a major upset on Saturday as he defeated World No 2 Rafael Nadal 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in the men’s singles semi-finals of Madrid Open. He will now face World No 1 Novak Djokovic in the finals of the tournament.
The Greek international displayed produced a performance of passion and grit as he booked his place in the final in Madrid for the first time in his young career.
Tsitsipas will be bidding to win his third title of the season following his victories in Marseilles and Estoril last week, and has now won eight consecutive matches since his tournament win in Portugal, reports EFE news agency.
Playing on his favourite surface in front of his home crowd and having only dropped one set all week, world number two Nadal was odds-on to set up a mouth-watering match against Djokovic, but Tsitsipas had other plans.
He brought an energy and aggression that the 32-year-old Nadal could not handle, despite having defeated the Greek on the three previous occasions they had faced off.
Nadal was uncharacteristically wobbly on serve, and was broken six times on Saturday, having seen his serve broken just once all week leading up to the semis.
Three of those breaks came in a difficult first set for the home favourite, but Nadal was hugely impressive during the second set after which it appeared Tsitsipas had finally run out of energy following a taxing fortnight.
But the youngster found extra reserves to force the victory in the deciding set as Nadal saved three match points before Tsitsipas sealed a famous win after a grueling two hours and 35 minutes.
“It means the world,” Tsitsipas said after the match. “I am really happy that I proved myself today. I played one of the best games this year. Today’s victory is an unbelievable feeling.”
He moves on to the final on Sunday to meet Novak Djokovic, who had earlier edged past Austria’s Dominic Thiem 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4).