Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Daniil Medvedev to reach his third consecutive grand slam semi-final at the French Open as the Russian sealed his own fate by serving underarm at match point down.
The Greek fifth seed won 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 and will face Germany’s Alexander Zverev for a place in Sunday’s final.
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Tsitsipas has the most wins on the ATP tour this season (38) and won clay court titles at Monte Carlo and Lyon.
Medvedev, the 2019 US Open runner-up and this year’s Australian Open finalist, suffered his first quarter-final loss at a major. He had never won a match at Roland Garros before this tournament.
It was only Tsitsipas’s second win over Medvedev in eight meetings and it ended in bizarre fashion.
Post-match all the talk was about Medvedev’s underarm serve on match point. He tried to catch Tsitsipas off guard with the cheeky move then charged to the net for a serve-and-volley. Sadly it didn’t work, and Tsitsipas nailed an easy backhand winner down the line to advance to the final four.
“I was thinking about it during the whole match, maybe an important point I could do it. Because in my opinion he was quite far back in the court, so that can always work,” Medvedev said when asked about the serve in his post-match press conference.
“But I didn’t see the opportunity before and this one I thought he was on top of me so it’s going to be a good choice to bring him a surprise. I sometimes do it in practice, usually guys are a bit surprised, they come into the low ball to slice, so that’s why I went to the net.
“But it didn’t work out at all. He had an easy ball to finish, he made it. But again as I say it was tactical.
“I won’t say it was a mistake. It was something that I dared to do and just maybe next time I won’t do it knowing that he’s ready.”
Medvedev and Tsitsipas have a complicated history and admit they don’t like each other. Medvedev said ahead of their latest meeting he respects the Greek star for his tennis, but not on a personal level.
Tsitsipas couldn’t resist taking a dig at the world No. 2 post-match, smirking as he described the underarm serve as “a very millennial shot”.
“So true,” he said. “Once he took a short break, I saw he kind of stopped. I thought there was something coming up so at that point I got prepared for it, yeah.
“There’s less than a second when you realise something is about to change from a regular serve.
“It was fine, I did what I had to do.”
Tennis world stunned by Medvedev’s decision
The tennis world was stunned Medvedev would opt for such a high-risk move on match point. Sports writer Erik Gudris tweeted: “If a crowd was there, half would boo Medvedev for that. The other half would give him a standing ovation.”
Fellow tennis reporter Ricky Dimon said it was “epic”, adding: “Medvedev is a damn genius. Now nobody is going to talk about how he just got destroyed by Tsitsipas. Now they are just going to talk about how dumb he is for hitting an underarm serve down match point. What a legend.”
Journalist Ben Rothenberg tweeted: “The underhand serve down match point by Medvedev was pretty terrible, but pretty amusing.”
The Tennis Podcast wrote: “The only thing more insane than that performance from Stefanos Tsitsipas was that match-point decision by Daniil Medvedev.”
Former tennis pro turned coach and analyst Brad Gilbert said: “Very strange decision and the S&V (serve-and-volley) on it as well, got what it deserved.”
The official Roland Garros Twitter account asked if it was the “wildest match point of the year” while New York Times reporter Christopher Clarey joked: “Not even Michael Chang hit an underhand serve on match point.”
Originally published as Tennis loses it over star’s rogue, final act