‘That’s bulls***!’: Furious Alexander Zverev is involved in heated row with umpire Renaud Lichtenstein as the German fumes at an overturned line call during French Open semi-final… before going on to lose to Stefanos Tsitsipas at Roland Garros
- A shot by Stefanos Tsitsipas was called out by a line judge deep in the third set
- However, umpire Renaud Lichtenstein checked the mark and overturned the call
- The decision meant Tsitspas was given the point, leaving Zverev furious
- After calming down, the German held his nerve to get his first set on the board
- Zverev them claimed the fourth set before Tsitsipas prevailed in the decider
- It is the first time that a Greek player has reached the final of a Grand Slam
Alexander Zverev lost in an enthralling five-set semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the French Open – and also lost his cool with the umpire for the second round in succession.
The German lost the opening two sets to his younger opponent but was 5-3 up and 15-15 on the Tsitsipas serve when the Greek hit a deep shot that was called out by a line judge – at about the same time Zverev sliced his forehand return into the net.
However, after umpire Renaud Lichtenstein came down to inspect the mark, he overruled the call and gave Tsitsipas the point, leaving Zverev apoplectic as the 24-year-old felt the line judge had made the call before his shot into the net and that he would have made more of an effort on the return if the ball had been called in.
Alexander Zverev was enraged with the umpire’s decision to overrule the line judge’s call
Renaud Lichtenstein felt the call came after Zverev had hit Stefanos Tsitsipas’ shot into the net
‘You cannot tell me the call came before the shot,’ Zverev fumed. ‘I hit it in the middle of the racquet. It was a frame shot winner. I hit a squash shot.
‘I could have hit a normal shot. You’re telling me I had no chance of putting that ball into the court? That’s bulls***!’
Eventually, Zverev had to admit defeat and return to the baseline and although Tsitsipas held his serve to make his opponent serve for the set, Zverev held his nerve to keep himself in the contest.
The 6’6” man then seized the momentum, winning the fourth set as he threatened a repeat of last year’s US Open semi-final, when he came from two sets down to beat Pablo Carreno Busta.
Tsitsipas was 0-40 down in the opening game of the deciding set but dug deep to hold and that proved the catalyst for a revival and a 6-3 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3 victory.
Zverev saved four match points at 5-2 in the fifth, three with big serves and one with the bravest of drop shots, but Tsitsipas kept his nerve brilliantly to serve it out, holding his arms aloft in delight and relief.
The 22-year-old, who becomes the first Greek player to reach a Grand Slam final as he deprived Zverev of a maiden major final of his own, said through tears as the crowd roared in support: ‘All I can think of is my roots, where I came from outside Athens.
‘My dream was to play here. My dream was to play on the big stage of the French Open one day.
‘It was nerve-racking, it was so intense. Fifth set, first game, I think it was the most important game of the fifth set. I came back, I stayed alive. I had the crowd with me. They were cheering me on, they were giving me their energy.
Zverev then composed himself to take his first set of the match and extend the contest in Paris
‘I still felt there was hope. I still felt there were opportunities for me to fight back and do something. Your only job is to go out there and fight, and that’s what I did.
‘It was very difficult, very emotional. I went through a lot of phases of emotional breakdowns but this win means a lot. This win is the most important one of my career so far.’
Tsitsipas had fallen three times in slam semi-finals, first at the Australian Open in 2019 then at last year’s French Open and February’s Australian Open.
He pushed Novak Djokovic to five sets at Roland Garros in October and, after winning a maiden Masters title on clay in Monte-Carlo, went into this tournament as a clear third favourite behind the world number one and Rafael Nadal, with the Serbian and the Spaniard facing each other in the other semi-final for the right to play Tsitsipas in Sunday’s showpiece.
He also boasted a 5-2 winning record over Zverev but the German has been in good form on the clay as well and, after recovering from two sets down in his opening match in Paris against Oscar Otte, had coasted through the draw.
This was a massive opportunity for both men and there was a huge amount of tension on display, with Tsitsipas winning the opening set despite hitting only one winner compared to 11 unforced errors.
However, it was Tsitsipas who came up trumps to reach his first-ever Grand Slam final
This was an astute rather than spectacular performance from the 22-year-old, who exploited Zverev’s weaknesses and stopped him stepping into the court on his favoured backhand.
Tsitsipas won six games in a row from 3-0 down in the second set but his relative passivity came back to haunt him as Zverev began to cut out the errors and take control.
Tsitsipas’ nerves were all too evident in the fourth set, the fifth seed unable to swing freely while Zverev was now looking very at home on Court Philippe Chatrier.
But Tsitsipas managed to step up his aggression just when the match seemed to be getting away from him, and clinched victory after three hours and 37 minutes.
He is the youngest man to reach a slam final since Andy Murray at the Australian Open 11 years ago and the youngest at Roland Garros since Nadal in 2008.
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