TORONTO—"I’m a bit confused right now. I don’t know if it's real." Those words came from a shocked Stefanos Tsitsipas after recovering from a 6-3, 5-2 deficit to stun Alexander Zverev, 3-6, 7-6 (11), 6-4 at the Rogers Cup.
"If you would tell me that I would be making a semifinal of a Masters 1000 [this year] I would tell you you’re crazy," Tsitsipas said. "Dreams do come true at the end with hard work and dedication."
The 19-year-old Greek took out the defending champion just a week after falling to Zverev in the Washington semifinals, 6-2, 6-4. For a while there, he looked like he would win the same number of games on Friday.
"I mean, I was up 6-3, 5-3, serving for the match. So it should have been a three and three match, and then I would have been [in press] about one-and-half hours ago," Zverev said.
Zverev was in complete control. The 21-year-old is just 16 months older than Tsitsipas, but he's ranked No. 3, has nine titles to his name and is in his fourth year on tour. The young Greek is only in his second year.
Highlights from Zverev's win over Tsitsipas in D.C. last week:
"I learned a lot last week in Washington losing to Alexander," Tsitsipas said on Thursday after stunning Novak Djokovic. "But that loss matured me. Made me braver and more experienced, I would say. So now I'm going to use it in my favor for my next match against him and try to get the most out of it. Be more clever, I would say, and play the right way and use my chances."
With the match almost over, Tsitsipas finally did what he said he would. He let himself be braver, and with nothing to lose, he found a way back in.
"I have no idea how I did it," Tsitsipas said. "It just came. I did the right things. And played the right way at that specific moment."
Zverev had his own opinion on the turnaround.
"He started putting some balls into the court," Zverev said. "I think before he was playing really bad. And I actually thought I was playing bad the whole match."
Tsitsipas was most effective when he putting pressure on Zverev by getting to the net, as well as adding variety to his game with angles and drop shots. It's tough to outplay Zverev from the baseline, where the Washington champion does a great job of controlling the point.
Zverev had a look at multiple match points in the wild second-set tiebreaker, and Tsitsipas needed five set points to seal the deal. Both flip-flopped between brilliant points and loose errors, until finally it was Zverev smashing his racquet into the ground in disgust. He was still in disgust after the match.
"I think the match was absolutely pathetic on all levels," Zverev said. "I mean, I'm very honest with you guys. I always say when the opponent play better. I'm probably one of the most honest guys on tour. I don't even think he played well."
The young German is understandably frustrated. He had his chances again in the third with a break for 3-2. The thing with breaks though is its not truly completed until you hold your serve—which Zverev did not do. Zverev even had more break chances at 4-4 but failed to convert, before shockingly double faulting on Tsitispas' first match point in the next game.
"Even though I was down, I was losing, I kind of felt like I was still in the match," Tsitsipas said. "I felt alive. I felt like I had opportunities."
The world No. 27 will have more when he takes on Kevin Anderson on Saturday.
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev headline the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Watch live coverage from four courts on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Monday, August 6th at 11:00 A.M.