Australian Open

Greek sensation Tsitsipas into first Slam semi-final

2019-01-22 11:00
Stefanos Tsitsipas
Stefanos Tsitsipas (AP)

Melbourne - Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas said he "surprised himself" with his fairytale Australian Open run after sweeping into the semi-finals on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old Greek followed his stunning win over Roger Federer by accounting for Spain's 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who in the first round had ended Andy Murray's tournament and possibly his career.

Tsitsipas had to contend with dropping his serve early in the first three sets before coming through 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) in 3 hours 15 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

"Roberto showed some good tennis the entire week. But at the end it's completely different of what I can picture it before going on the court, how you can imagine your opponent is going to play," Tsitsipas said. 

"I did surprise a little bit myself with my performance."

The exciting Tsitsipas, who sports a flowing mane of long hair, became the first Greek player to go so deep at any Grand Slam and fell to the floor, head in hands after the winning point.

"It all feels like a fairytale almost," he said.

"I'm just living the dream, living what I've been working hard for.

"I was asked my goals this year and said semis Grand Slam. And when I was answering this question, I thought I was crazy. But it is real. It just happened."

Tsitsipas, who broke through in 2018 with his first ATP Tour title and won the NextGen finals, will face either world number two Rafael Nadal or unseeded Frances Tiafoe for a place in the final.

For the 30-year-old Bautista Agut, who came into his first Slam quarter-final unbeaten in 2019 after winning in Doha, the wait for a maiden major semi-final goes on.

After encountering the gifted Greek at close quarters for the first time, he still fancies either Nadal or Novak Djokovic to lift the Norman Brookes trophy.

"He's playing very good tennis," the Spanish world number 24 told reporters of Tsitsipas.

"But here I think Rafa and Novak are my favourites."

Federer did not win any of 12 break points in a four-set defeat against 14th seed Tsitsipas in round four, but Bautista Agut managed it on his first in the opening game of the match.

There was no panic from the 20-year-old from Athens and he broke back before stealing the set 7-5 with a second break created by a rasping forehand winner.

Bautista Agut went 2-1 up in the second set with another early break and it was enough to level the match score.

Down another break in the third, Tsitsipas outlasted the Spaniard in a gruelling game to level at 4-4. And when the Athenian artist secured a second, Bautista Agut sensed his hopes were slipping away

"When I lost the third set, I knew I had to do a really good effort to try to win the match," said Bautista Agut.

"I continue fighting till the end, but it was not enough."

The gutsy Spaniard successfully served to stay in the match for the first time at 4-5 in the fourth set.

He then showed great resilience at 5-6, 30-40 to repel a first match point after a 21-shot baseline rally.

But Tsitsipas jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the ensuing tiebreak and secured the match on the first of four more match points.


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