World loses it over 'Greek freak'
THERE is a new world order coming in men's tennis with 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas ending the run of defending champion Roger Federer in the fourth round.
The 14th seed lost a long tie-breaker in the first but came back to win the next three sets to signal a changing of the guard.
The NextGen Finals champion beat Federer, who is 17 years his senior, 6-7 7-6 7-5 7-6 on Rod Laver Arena to become the first Greek player in history to reach the quarter finals of a Slam where he will meet Spain's 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut.
"There's nothing really I can say to describe this," Tsitsipas said. "I'm the happiest man on earth right now."
John McEnroe said he looked like he thought he would win in the post-match interview, with Tsitsipas' answer making the crowd laugh.
"I truly agree with you," he said.
"Actually, from the very beginning, you need to have that mindset in your capabilities in what you have in your abilities as a player.
"Roger is a legend of our sport, I have so much respect for him. He's played such good tennis over the years, I've been idolising him since the age of six, it's a dream come true just being on Rod Laver facing him. Winning, I cannot describe it to you now.
"Playing here at Rod Laver Arena was something I dreamt about as a kid. The atmosphere, the vibe, the energy that you guys gave to me and to Roger today was indescribable."
The world went nuts for the Greek star in the making.
Roger Federer is out in the first week for second straight Grand Slam— ZENIA D'CUNHA (@ZENIADCUNHA) 20 January 2019
But unlike Millman at USOpen & even Anderson at Wimby, this was a competitive Fed who lost to a truly sensational tennis from a young opponent in Tsitsipas
That counts for something!
A match that marks a 'changing of the guard' also shows Fed's influence alive and strong in the game... lots of volleys, light, precise, probing shots and well crafted points by Tsitsipas. The ultimate compliment and an important legacy.— Doug Dingwall (@dougdingwall) 20 January 2019
He’s like some weird mix of Roger Federer, John McEnroe and Björn Borg. @StefTsitsipas is an absolute star and I can’t wait to watch him play for many years to come. #FedererTsitsipas #Tsitsipas #Federer #AustralianOpen— Mark Gibson (@markgibbo) 20 January 2019
Federer was humble in defeat, praising Tsitsipas in the post-match press conference.
"I lost to a better player who was playing very well tonight," he said. "Hung in there, gave himself chances at some point, stayed calm. It's not always easy, especially for younger guys. Credit to him for taking care of that."
The pair's only previous meeting in the mixed team Hopman Cup earlier this month was a tight affair where Federer had won courtesy of two tiebreaks.
So there was little surprise when the first set also went to 6-6 and a decider.
It ended on a controversial note when a fan jumped the gun and shouted "out" on a Tsitsipas forehand with Federer 12-11 ahead.
The call distracted Tsitsipas, who mis-hit his next forehand and Federer put it away.
The second saw Federer constantly pressure the Greek's serve but each time the energetic Tsitsipas resisted.
By the time the second set reached the tie-break the gutsy Greek had already repelled 10 break points.
This time, however, Tsitsipas quickly took two points against Federer's serve and levelled the match after just over two hours.
At 4-5 in the third, Tsitsipas forced his first two break points of the entire match but Federer weathered that storm.
But the clouds were darkening over the 20-time Grand Slam champion who was making an uncharacteristic series of mistakes, largely on his forehand wing.
On Federer's next service game the youngster again got to 15-40, this time for set points, and a 42nd unforced error into the net saw the veteran behind in a match for the first time in the championship.
Tsitsipas called the trainer in the change over after the seventh game of the fourth set a he began to cramp on a warm and sticky night.
Federer couldn't take advantage of his opponent's plight and Tsitsipas sealed the win on his first match point in the third tie-break of the match.
- with AFP