Novak Djokovic will play Stefanos Tsitsipas for the Madrid Open title after the 20-year-old Greek stunned Rafael Nadal on Saturday to win a thrilling semifinal 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 on his fourth match point.
Nadal, 32, had been a clear favourite to face Djokovic in Sunday’s showpiece at Caja Magica but the 17-time Grand Slam champion extended his stuttering build-up to the French Open with another surprise defeat.
Tsitsipas’ stunning victory means he reaches his fourth ATP final of the season while fully vindicating those that have him circled as a future star of the men’s game.
In terms of career wins, this perhaps trails only his sensational ousting of Roger Federer from the Australian Open in January, when he went on to reach the semifinals for his best run yet at a Grand Slam.
But, as well as Federer and Nadal, Tsitsipas has now beaten Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem, both twice, and Djokovic, whom he played on hard in Canada last year and prevailed in three sets.
He will draw confidence from that result ahead of Sunday’s final but arguably even more so from overcoming Nadal, on clay, which Djokovic had earlier described as the “ultimate challenge” following his own 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/4) victory over Dominic Thiem.