Tsitsipas follows up Federer upset by reaching 1st Slam semi
AP Tennis Writer
MELBOURNE, Australia — Lest anyone get the idea that Stefanos Tsitsipas’ upset of Roger Federer was a fluke, the 20-year-old from Greece followed it up by beating No. 22 seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) at the Australian Open on Tuesday to become the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist since 2007.
“That was a great win. It got people’s attention,” Tsitsipas said about his fourth-round stunner against two-time defending champion Federer on Sunday. “My biggest challenge was to stay concentrated, stay focused,” in order to show that the previous victory “didn’t happen accidentally.”
Cheered on by a loud, flag-waving contingent of Greek fans inside and outside Rod Laver Arena, Tsitsipas again displayed his varied skill set, with 22 aces, 30 more winners than unforced errors (68-38) and a nose for getting to the net.
He was down a break in both the first and third sets before turning them around against Bautista Agut, whose run to the quarterfinals included victories over Andy Murray, a three-time major champion, and Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion and the runner-up to Federer at Melbourne Park a year ago.
“Well, he’s a good player, no? He’s very complete. He has a good forehand and backhand. He’s serving well,” Bautista Agut said about Tsitsipas. “I think he knows the game. He knows how to play.”
Now the 14th-seeded Tsitsipas gets to continue the best showing of his career, one that marks him as perhaps the sport’s next big thing.
And make no mistake about it: He is a millennial, through and through, even promoting his 27,000-follower YouTube channel during his on-court interview.
“Guys,” he told the crowd, “if you haven’t subscribed, please subscribe.”
No man as young as Tsitsipas had been this far at any Grand Slam tournament since Novak Djokovic at the 2007 U.S. Open or at the Australian Open since Andy Roddick in 2003.
“It all feels like a fairy tale, almost. I’m just living the dream, living what I’ve been working hard for,” said Tsitsipas, who dropped his racket, fell on his back and covered his face with his hands at match’s end. “I mean, I feel a bit emotional but not too much because I know I worked hard to get here.”
Seated in his courtside guest box were his parents and two siblings, along with Patrick Mouratoglou, who is Serena Williams’ coach and serves as a mentor to Tsitsipas.
Now they’ll turn their attention to his next opponent, either 17-time major champion Rafael Nadal or another up-and-coming member of the sport’s new generation, 21-year-old American Frances Tiafoe. Nadal and Tiafoe were scheduled to play their quarterfinal Tuesday night.
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
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