Roger Federer the two-time defending champion has been bundled out of the Australian Open in the fourth round. Greek 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas played the match of his life to defeat his idol, the 20-time Grand Slam champion 6-7(11), 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-6(5).
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Photo: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 20: Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece plays a forehand in his fourth round match against Roger Federer of Switzerland during day seven of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 20, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
No break points converted proves costly for Federer
Federer had plenty of opportunities to break his opponents serve earning 12 break points, yet he was unable to convert even one. Tsitsipas only had three break points but was able to get a crucial break late in the third set when it looked likely that the players would again go to a tiebreaker.
Both players have amazing single-handed backhands yet it was Federer that came up with the most errors throughout the match with 55 unforced errors to 36 from the racquet of Tsitsipas. Federer mistimed shots at crucial times throughout the match. He even badly missed a volley as the pressure was building. The winners count was almost identical with Tsitsipas hitting 62 to Federer’s 61.
Video highlights from the Tsitsipas win over Federer
The 37-year-old Swiss legend served at 67% to 64% for first serves in. It was Tsitsipas’ attacking tennis that gave him the win. He would attack the net at key moments and hit great volleys to secure points. He was under pressure from the start fighting off two break points in the very first game of the match.
The first set tiebreaker was a thriller with both players holding set points before the defending champion edged ahead.
Federer had three break points in the sixth game of the second set but made an unforced error on the first, another unforced error saw him lose his next opportunity. A Tsitsipas winner saved the third. One breakpoint was earned by Federer in game eight and then he had four in game ten. He was slightly off his game and could not convert.
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Photo: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 20: Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a forehand in his fourth-round match against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during day seven of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 20, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
That was the story of the night, Federer could not convert the much-needed break points. Tsitsipas held his nerve and played one of his finest matches when it mattered the most.
He will face Roberto Bautista Agut for a place in the semifinals after the Spaniard knocked out last year’s other finalist, Marin Cilic.
Changing of the guard?
“You’re watching the changing of the guard,” John McEnroe announced to Rod Laver Arena as he asked Tsitsipas what were the keys to his momentous victory.
“It’s very important to have this aggressive mindset and not to think too much about what’s going to happen,” said the Greek. “Stay in the moment, play percentage tennis, have first serves in and press from the very beginning.
“I managed to do that. I didn’t lose my patience in some of the rallies that we played, so that was the key to saving those break points. And overall, I showed a great fighting spirit and determination.
“I do believe that coming to the net, being aggressive and taking the ball early, we have to keep it going. Most players in this era are baseliners, and I really like this aggressive game – coming to the net, serve-volleying sometimes. It keeps the game alive.”
It is amazing to see Tsitsipas step up at the Australian Open after his form last week at the Sydney International, but big players rise to the occasion.