Dream run continues for Tsitsipas

Melbourne: Rising Greek prospect Stefanos Tsitsipas added another thrilling chapter to his Australian Open odyssey, after defeating Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5 4-6 6-4 7-6(2) to become the youngest man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since 2007.

The 20-year old Tsitsipas is the first player from Greece to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam, and at 20 years, 168 days, is the youngest man to make the semifinals at a major since Novak Djokovic at the 2007 U.S. Open. He’s also the youngest man to do so in Australia since Andy Roddick in 2003.

The No. 22-seeded Bautista Agut, who played his first grand slam quarter-final advanced the hard way, spending more than 14 hours on court through his first four rounds. He had three five- setters starting with a victory over five-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray, followed by another against Australian John Millman and, after advancing through the third round in straight sets, his fourth-round win over 2018 finalist Marin Cilic went the distance as well.

In the quarter-final against Tsitsipas, despite having breaks of serve late in the first and the third sets, Bautista Agut uncharacteristically let them slip and lost both. Bautista Agut had 50 winners and 32 unforced errors, defending the second serve in a more effective way than his rival but failing to match Tsitsipas’ pace behind the first serve, hitting just six aces in comparison to Stefanos’ 22 and falling in the most critical points to end his run in the quarters.

The Spaniard earned the first out of three breaks in the very first game of the match after a smash mistake from Stefanos who managed to break back in the eighth game when Bautista Agut sprayed a costly forehand error. The youngster forced a mistake in the 12th game to grab another break and clinch the opener in 49 minutes before Roberto bounced back, losing four points on serve in set number two and mounting the pressure on the other side of the net.

He broke Tsitsipas in the third game with a backhand slice winner and stayed ahead all the time, closing the set with a service winner in game ten to level the overall score and keep himself in the competition. Things looked better and better for the more experienced player following his break in the fifth game of the third set thanks to a forehand winner but Stefanos was there to fight, breaking back at 3-4 to gain the momentum and make the set more interesting.

In the last set Agut set up a tie break where Tsitsipas was not to be denied, scoring four mini-breaks and sealing the deal in the ninth point with a service winner, starting a massive celebration
of his most significant result in a career so far.

“I’m just living the dream, living what I’ve been working hard for.It all feels like a fairytale, almost,” said Tsitsipas, who had beaten six-time Australian Open winner Federer in the fourth round. In the semis, the No. 14-seeded Tsitsipas will play either 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal or first-time quarterfinalist Frances Tiafoe.

 

NT Bureau