Highlights from the Tour
Tsitsipas Pushes Djokovic to the Brink in Epic Roland Garros Final
Tiafoe Bests Kudla to Win Nottingham & Maiden Grass Title
Two-time Citi Open semifinalist Stefanos Tsitsipas reached his first major final in Paris at the 2021 Citi Open, where he pushed world No. 1 Novak Djokovic to the brink on Sunday. (Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour)
Citi Open star Stefanos Tsitsipas had an extraordinary two weeks in Paris!
The two-time Citi Open semifinalist and current world No. 4 emerged through a loaded field of competition to reach his first Grand Slam final at the 2021 French Open Championships at Roland Garros on Sunday.
After scoring notable wins over three-time Citi Open finalist John Isner and 2019 Citi Open finalist Daniil Medvedev in the early rounds, Tsitsipas ousted two-time Citi Open champion and world No. 6 Alexander Zverev, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, in a thrilling semifinal clash to set up a Paris rematch against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in pursuit of winning his maiden Grand Slam title.
Djokovic defeated Tsitsipas in the semis of last year's tournament in a grueling five-setter, 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1, but the 22-year-old Greek star was a different player in their second encounter on Philippe-Chatrier. Tsitipas led the tour in wins and the FedEx ATP Race to Turin going into the final, thanks to breakthrough victories in Lyon and Monte-Carlo, where he won his first Rolex Masters 1000 title earlier this spring.
The Athens native boldly displayed his improvement and confidence by taking the opening two sets from the world No. 1 in an epic final that will long be remembered.
Tsitsipas was invincible in the first set, saving a set point at 6-5, and then another in the tiebreak to take the early lead. The Greek only got better from there. An early break in the next set continued his momentum, and by the time he won the second set, the world No. 1 looked shattered. But a renewed Djokovic returned to the court after a bathroom break to start the third set.
"He came back, to me, like a different player, suddenly," said Tsitsipas after the match. "He played really well, he gave me no space. I felt physically, everything on the court for him felt much better than before. I felt he could read my game suddenly."
Tsitsipas continued to battle, but the Serb lifted his game to new levels at several crucial moments with deft drop shots and tenacious baseline rallies to claim his 19th Grand Slam title, 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, one behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who both have won 20.
"What I learned today is that no matter what, in order for the match to be finished, you have to win three sets and not two," said Tsitsipas. "Two sets doesn't really mean anything. It's still one away from winning the entire match. That's a Grand Slam for you. It's the way it is."
Next up, the two-time Citi Open semifinalist will continue his hunt for his maiden Slam at Wimbledon, which begins on Monday, June 28. Meanwhile, DC tennis fans applaud his sensational run in Paris.
College Park native Frances Tiafoe reigns in Nottingham to win first grass title. (Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
In other tennis news, Washington Kastles all-star Frances Tiafoe started off the grass-court season with a bang. The College Park native defeated Arlington, Virginia native and fellow Kastles alum Denis Kudla, 6-1, 6-3, to win the Viking Open in Nottingham and his first career grass title.
"I was waiting for this for a very long time," said Tiafoe during the trophy ceremony. "Denis battled hard all week. I know grass is one of his favorite surfaces, so I hope he wins next week but I'm happy to get this one. I needed it bad. And it's my first title with my coach Wayne Ferreira.
"Lastly," Tiafoe continued, "I have to say to Denis that I wouldn't be the guy I am without you, bro. I've been trying to chase you since I was a kid. It feels good to beat you today, but I've always looked up to you, and I'm happy for our practices together and our friendship. In all my success in the future, I want to say thank you."
Tiafoe prevails over Kudla in Best of DC final at Viking Open. (Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Tiafoe is no stranger to success on grass. In 2018, he reached the quarterfinals at Queen's Club and weeks later advanced to the third round at Wimbledon. Still, the 23-year-old's victory was his first title since he prevailed on the clay of Parma in 2020.
Kudla, meanwhile, was bidding for his second grass-court crown. The American enjoyed an impressive week himself, stopping #NextGenATP star Tomas Machac in the first round, before defeating home hopes Liam Broady and Daniel Evans and saving a match point against Poland's Kamil Majchrzak in the semifinals. Evans was the top seed and defending champion.
Both finalists will look to continue their strong form on the turf next week, with Tiafoe traveling to London to compete at Queen's Club and Kudla staying in Nottingham. Tiafoe opens against Aljaz Bedene, while Kudla is set to face Kastles alum and No. 4 seed Kevin Anderson.