I should have trusted my instincts earlier, says beaten Tsitsipas

PARIS (Reuters) - Stefanos Tsitsipas said he regretted not playing his usual instinctive game earlier in his 6-3 6-2 5-7 4-6 6-1 semi-final defeat against world number one Novak Djokovic at the French Open on Friday.

Oct 9, 2020; Paris, France; Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) in action during his match against Novak Djokovic (SRB) on day 13 at Stade Roland Garros. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

The Greek, seeded fifth at Roland Garros, came back from the brink to force the Serbian into a decider, where a recent injury resurfaced and killed the tired Tsitsipas’s chances.

The world number six, however, believes he made a “huge mistake” by not being more instinctive early in the match on court Philippe Chatrier.

“I wish I could have figured certain things earlier which, I don’t know, I felt like it was a total demolition, the fact that I tried those things in practice and tried to implement them in the match,” Tsitsipas, who saved a match point in the third set, told a news conference.

“It was something new. I wish I wouldn’t have tried these things and tried to stay to my ordinary and basic way of feeling the ball and also trying to dictate the game.

“I think that was a huge mistake today, that I tried this for two sets in a row, then came back to my old way of doing things.”

That more instinctive approach worked much better for the 22-year-old, who started to convert his break points, turning the tide in spectacular fashion and forcing Djokovic to man the barricades until the Greek ran out of steam.

“He gave me a really difficult time on the court. Unfortunately towards the end of the match an injury that I had during my match in Rome came back,” said Tsitsipas.

“As you saw, it was a good comeback, and I think I played great tennis after that, except the fifth set, which I believe my body was not ready for,” he added.

“Physically I wasn’t really there.”

Tsitsipas was hoping to become the first Greek to reach a Grand Slam final and while the defeat would have stung it was a marked improvement from his last semi-final appearance in a major when he was thrashed 6-2 6-4 6-0 by Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open last year.

“Well, if I think back at the Australian Open I was still a kid, and now I’m turning more into an adult,” said Tsitsipas.

“My thinking has changed. I’ve matured. I’ve been through a lot of things. I have grown from the people around me, my relationships, people in general...

“I have, of course, more experience in my pocket than before. I’ve played matches. I’ve experienced different things. I know when something is good or not, and I can, I think, dictate that earlier.”

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis