Paris, Oct 10 : Seventeen-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic has heaped praise on Stefanos Tsitsipas, saying the Greek is a fighter and one of the best players in the world.
On Friday evening, Djokovic survived a fightback from fifth seed Tsitsipas as he had to battle it out for almost four hours to secure a hard-fought 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1 semi-final win in the ongoing French Open.
“Credit to him (Tsitsipas) for fighting back. He just played terrific tennis, especially in the fourth set when he was facing break points… He’s a fighter. He’s one of the best players in the world…There was a lot at stake for him,” said Djokovic after the match as per the ATP Tour website.
“He was motivated to try to turn the match around, which he did very well. But in the end I think he ran out of gas. That’s when I stepped it up, used my opportunities when they were presented in the fifth and closed out the match in a great fashion,” he added.
Djokovic started his 10th Roland Garros semi-final in great form, winning the first two sets quite comfortably. But as the match began to slip away from Tsitsipas, the world number six took risks and fired his backhand down the line regularly to turn the match in his favour and won the next two sets.
After the fourth set where Djokovic managed to convert just one of his 11 break points, the Serbian showed greater levels of energy in the decider and played with aggression on his return to reach the championship match.
“I was definitely not pleased with the way I played the finishing stages of the third and fourth sets, but I was very pleased with the way I kept my composure mentally throughout the entire match,” said the world number one. “I did feel that even though I lost the third and fourth, I still felt like I was the better player on the court. I had more control. I just felt comfortable playing,” he added.
Djokovic will now play ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal in the summit clash. Djokovic owns a 29-26 head to head advantage against the Spaniard, but Nadal has won six of their seven meetings at this event.