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Tsitsipas stays hot on clay, reaches Rome final with victory over Zverev

Stefanos Tsitsipas reasserted himself in his rivalry with Alexander Zverev on Saturday in Rome, avenging a loss at Madrid last week by defeating the German in three sets.

Stefanos Tsitsipas Rome 2022 Stefanos Tsitsipas Rome 2022 – © Imago / Panoramic

ATP Rome 1000 | Draws Schedule

Stefanos Tsitsipas continues to emerge as a Roland-Garros contender in Rome. On Saturday the fifth-ranked Greek reached his first Rome final, taking down Germany’s Alexander Zverev, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, to improve to 37-7 on clay since the start of 2021.

Last year’s French Open runner-up rallied from a set down to defeat Zverev for the eighth time in 12 meetings.

What made the difference on Saturday?

“Being able to handle my serve very precisely,” said Tsitsipas. “That was very important today. There came a moment in the beginning of the first set where I felt like I was repeating the same mistakes after my serve, but I was able to cover that up in the second and third set and really stay within my best weapons and execute them smartly.”

Tsitsipas, who hit 18 winners against 29 unforced errors, was not broken in the second or third set as he marched to his tour-leading 31st victory of the season.

Tsitsipas – He wasn’t giving me much

The Greek has taken control of his rivalry with Zverev on clay, winning four of five overall, and on Saturday he was able to avenge a loss to Zverev in last week’s Madrid semi-finals.

“He wasn’t giving me much, he made me work very hard for every single point, and I’m extremely proud of the way things turned around and how I was able to really read the game play better and understand what was working at the time,” Tsitsipas said.

It wasn’t the cleanest match on a hot, balmy day in Rome, but it was characterized by the fighting spirit of Tsitsipas and the ability to remain consistent under pressure down the stretch.

“The heat hasn’t been easy,” Tsitsipas said. “It has been pretty rough out here, but that’s what I like, I prefer good weather like this instead of being in the rain and not getting enough tennis – I see it as a good thing, there’s not even a single cloud out here, I guess it couldn’t get better. I see the bright side of it.”

Zverev admitted that he ran out of gas a bit in the late stages. He says playing the final last week in Madrid helped to sap his energy.

“I think I gave away the break too early in the second set,” he said. “I think since then he started playing much better. I think my level went down a little bit. I returned much worse, I think, the next two sets than I did in the first set.

“But also, I mean, I got a little bit tired, to be honest. I played the final Madrid. Played long matches here. I mean, I’m not a machine. I’m a human being. This is normal.”

Tsitsipas – Proud to be a Rome finalist for the first time

The 23-year-old Greek improves to 9-4 lifetime at Rome and he will face either Novak Djokovic or Casper Ruud for the title on Sunday. He has now reached at least the final of all three clay-court Masters 1000 events and is especially proud to join the finalist’s club at Rome, an event that he holds in high regard.

“It’s one of those tournaments that I think has the most history in our sport and you can see walking around the site, they have one of the most beautiful stadiums, the gladiator stadium here, Pietrangeli, right around the corner, so there’s a lot of history playing on these courts and you feel very proud that you’ve made your way here and are able to participate in such a historically rich event,” Tsitsipas said.

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