Stefanos Tsitsipas showed just why he is the man of the moment in men’s tennis, coming from a set down to beat defending champion Novak Djokovic and book a place in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship final at Abu Dhabi’s International Tennis Center, Zayed Sports City, on Friday.
Making his first appearance in the championship, the 2019 ATP Finals winner continued his stunning 2019 form in front of a packed stadium court to secure a stunning come-from-behind 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 victory against the World No. 2.
Four-time winner Djokovic got off to a lightning start with a trademark display of speed, power and procession, breaking the Greek twice in the first six games to race into a 5-1 lead. Tsitsipas hit back with two straight games. However, with a full house cheering on both players, Djokovic held his nerve to close out the set.
With three titles in 2019, 21-year-old Tsitsipas has had a stellar season and he found that sparkling form in the second set, moving his opponent around the court and attacking the Serbian’s service race into a 5-1 lead in set two.
Djokovic rallied, winning the next four games and taking the set to a tiebreak. Tsitsipas, roared on by a large portion of Greek fans in a capacity crowd, held on to seal the tiebreak and take the match into a deciding set.
He started the third set in style, breaking Djokovic and holding his serve for a 2-0 lead before producing a stunning drop shot from the back of the court to win game six and take a 4-2 lead. And he capped off a thrilling comeback, serving at 40-0 for the match, powering down an ace to close out the match.
“The start of the match wasn’t my best, I found myself 5-1 down. I got a bit angry with myself. I didn’t show it, I just told myself I was better and I just loosened up,” said Tsitsipas.
“It’s was good to have such a battle. We both played high-quality tennis. I’m glad that I played a lot with my brain today. The crowd were a lot of fun. I was thinking at one point how much energy they were bringing out on to the court. They make a whole lot of difference and it makes it more exciting to play.”
Earlier in the day, Andrey Rublev secured fifth place with a hard-fought 7-6, 7-6 victory over South Korea’s Hyeon Chung. The Russian recovered from 3-1 down to get back into the first set and to take the set into a tiebreak. He then broke Chung’s serve twice in the tie-break to take the opening set.
Rublev raced into a 4-1 lead in the second set before being pegged back with Chung holding his serve to take the match into a second tiebreak. Rublev lost the first point but recovered to take four service points from his opponent, taking the tiebreak 7-1.
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